Solange drops a surprise album

Stans go crazy

Alex Camilli , @A_Carnation

The Knowles family has been a dominant force in the music industry ever since Beyonce graced our ears in the 1990s. Her younger sister Solange’s fourth studio album “When I Get Home” introduces her own approach to R&B.

In the late 1990s, both sisters were involved in the best selling female group Destiny’s Child, Beyonce was the lead vocalist while Solange was one of the back-up dancers for the artists managed by their father Mathew Knowles. Solange began her journey as a musician at the age of 16 releasing her debut album “Solo Star.”

Fast forward 17 years later, Solange’s development as a songwriter has been signed with my only critique on this album being her voice can come off perceptibly thin. Released on March 1, 2019, “When I get Home” contains a diverse roster of producers and guest features.

Artists spanning multiple genres such as indie, hip-hop, trap, and electronics are involved in the avant-garde production. Including R&B contemporaries such as Raphael Saadiq, The Dream, Blood Orange, and Sampha. Other notable artists include Pharrell Williams, Tyler, The Creator, and Metro Boomin’ known for their distinguished sound.

Solange improved her vocal performance from her previous album “A Seat at the Table” released on Sep. 30, 2016. “When I Get Home” begins with the repeated phrase “Things I Imagined” which serves as the title of the track. Simple Rhodes piano chords become more complex as synthesized embellishments conclude the song.

In this project, there are a handful of interludes that don’t just signal subtle changes in the production, they also serve as nods towards prominent figures in African American culture. Pat Parker, Debbie Allen, and Phylicia Rashad happen to all be Houston, TX natives like Solange.

Track 3, “Down with the Clique,” brings in foreboding grand piano chords that breath with the constant ride cymbal. The drums seem to be sampled showing little changes in timing which can quickly cause listeners to tune out. Solange’s vocal harmonies in the higher register contrast the miasma that is the song’s production.

The song transitions into a promiscuous ballad titled “Stay Flo” where Solange utilizes backing vocals that is reminiscent of 90s R&B. As the harmony she produced was inspired by Mary J. Blige, accompanied by modulated synths. The punchiness of the drums can be attributed to producer Metro Boomin’.

“Alameda” is an obvious highlight on the album with the larger-than-life low end that rumbles throughout the track. Solange elaborating about the “black-owned things” from black bourbon to a black Benz. Rapper Playboi Carti’s ad-libs can be heard as the piano riffs approach his verse.

The live hi-hat notes moving with the tempo of the track “Binz” enable Solange to deliver a vocal performance similar to what is heard in the genre of rap. One of the final songs on the track “Sound of Rain” features Pharrell’s 4-count intro that has to be the most eclectic, speaking from a production standpoint.

This was only a small batch of songs that I felt accurately describes Solange’s creative direction on her recent release. She teased videos on the black social media site called BlackPlanet that you can visit here.

Now we wait till Solange breaches the sound waves again with another synth-driven gem.