Expectation: Technically Solange’s third album, but the second since she gained artistic control of her music, A Seat at the Table marks the result of long years of effort. Solange allegedly began writing for the album in 2008 and recording sessions are said to have lasted from 2013 to 2015, as Solange explored different sounds and styles. Following the musical departures of Sol-Angel and True, this album was anticipated as yet another potential departure.
- Rise – A beautiful opener that perfectly sets the positive yet somber mood of the album.
- Weary – A great neo-soul track, blending a funky bass line with arpeggiated synths and a smooth, soulful melody.
- Cranes In the Sky – Placing gentle, swelling strings over funky, upbeat drums, this track sounds like Mama’s Gun brought to 2016, which is about the highest compliment I can think of for this style of music.
- Mad – I never would have imagined Lil Wayne could fit into this album’s sound, but I have rarely been so glad to be wrong. Wayne delivers an incredibly honest verse that perfectly sets up Solange’s heartfelt chorus. Also, I can’t place the piano tone that they accent the beat with at times, but its beautiful.
- Don’t You Wait – The transition from ‘Mad’ to this track is where I knew this album was something special. Aside from the guitar sounding a lot like ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, this track explores a very different sonic palette than any song previous to it while still fitting the overall mood.
- Where Do We Go – Just when you think this track sounds like something done earlier in the album, Solange throws a curveball and sings a completely different style of melody. Also, that piano tone comes back and its still perfect.
- F.U.B.U. – Another great neo-soul track, this time with a horn section and some nice features.
- Don’t Wish Me Well – Yet another fantastic R&B track, featuring some of the best harmonies on the album.
Overall: Congrats, you are looking at a review for one of the best albums of the year! Solange’s sound shares much in common with artists like Frank Ocean and Erykah Badu, but is still unique to her; she dabbles in funk, soul, and R&B without ever fully committing to the confines of a single genre. Each track feels distinct, yet fits into the overall vibe of the album. The best description I can offer for the mood this album carries throughout is akin to sitting in a room by yourself and reading a book in the late afternoon, with the sun shining through the window just a bit too directly so that every particle of dust floating in the air is visible and you end up just sitting and looking at the tiny specks floating in the air and thinking about life, rather than reading the book in your hands. I don’t know why that got so specific, that’s just how the album feels to me. And its phenomenal.