Album Review: Solange’s When I Get Home
Solange’s album When I Get Home (2019) is the singer/songwriter’s newest project that ties waves of jazzy R&B and vibey beats to create a buttery sound that cuts across the limits of pop and hip hop. For a 19-track album, the album’s duration is just short of 40 minutes due to a handful of interludes and shorter songs that sometimes don’t reach two minutes. However, the way everything blends together works in a wonderful way as Solange gives us a story – perhaps a sequel – to her previous album A Seat at the Table (2016) as she dabbles further into her life. In addition, the singer released a companion film to the album under the same name and it’s available exclusively via Apple Music.
“The film is an exploration of origin, asking the question how much of ourselves do we bring with us versus leave behind in our evolution,” said Solange’s representatives in a statement.
The lineup of artists who contributed to this album is very impressive. Just a few of these artists include Earl Sweatshirt, Panda Bear, Tyler the Creator, Playboi Carti, Sampha, Dev Hynes, Steve Lacy, and Abra. The album begins with the hazy opening track “Things I Imagined,” as Solange plainly repeats the title over an amalgam of kaleidoscopic instrumentation. Next, comes an interlude that soon flows into the third track “Down with the Clique,” featuring vocals and some keyboard magic from Tyler the Creator. Solange begins the trend of jazzy falsettos from here and continues to present listeners with its grace as tracks on the album start to bleed into each other and create a story trapped in the confines between linearity and nonlinearity.
Solange delivers a total of five interludes as well as one intermission on this album. The fifth track, “Can I Hold the Mic (interlude)” is my favorite pause in the album because of how introspective Solange gets.
She speaks, “I can’t be a singular expression of myself, there’s too many parts, too many spaces, too many manifestations, too many lines, too many curves, too many troubles, too many journeys, too many mountains, too many rivers, so many.”
Halfway through this interlude comes a blend of shimmering instruments that dive into the following song “Stay Flo” which features a groovy production by Metro Boomin. Most songs from When I Get Home lack a traditional structure and instead welcome a dynamic of repetition, instruments that sound like freedom, and flowing interludes.
The track “Almeda” features The-Dream and Playboi Carti–whose ad libs make an interesting but cool contribution to the song. “Almeda” plays homage to black culture at large and to Solange’s southern roots in particular. The technique of chopped and screwed is used here, which dates back to the 1990s Houston hip hop scene.
Moving forward, the rest of the album is pretty solid in terms of Solange’s lyrical effort and delivery. However, one may find that certain songs off the album create the impression of being quite similar to each other because of her signature reiteration of sounds and echoes. Circling back to those jazzy falsettos, the track “Sound of Rain” featuring Steve Lacy and Abra is a must listen as Solange’s voice reaches a delicate high. The last track “I’m a Witness” continues the pattern of soft echoes and it’s a nice contrast to the album’s intro track. All in all, When I Get Home ends with a warm touch and a good amount of closure.
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