Released: September 30, 2016
After the retro-psychedelic offering of Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams in 2008, Solange Knowles decided to take some professional time off (here and there…) to focus on her upcoming record. Then, nearly a decade since her last release, A Seat at the Table, her third solo record, comes out. A record boasting simple jazz beats over some soulful compositions, relaxing instrumentation and experimental vocals, the LP presents itself as an open book of many interesting and heart-wrenching conversations; social culture, racism, the experiences that African-American people go through, anger, amongst many others.
Unlike her previous material, A Seat at the Table shows Solange at her most accessible and comfortable, especially in the soulful entries “Rise”, “Weary”, and the neo-R&B anthem, “Cranes in the Sky”. She allows her confessional past and experiences rise through the anger/subtle track “Mad” (featuring Lil’ Wayne), her self-pride and accomplishment as an African-American through the groovy synths and instrumentation of “Don’t Touch My Hair” (featuring Sampha), and some compelling story-telling about her childhood and life in “Don’t You Wait”, “Cranes in the Sky”, and the funky “Junie”. There are even some dubs of 90s culture and her relationships here, including the jazz-inspired hit that reflects on the fashion label For Us By Us, “F.U.B.U” (featuring The Dream and BJ the Chicago Kid).
Whilst the material is quite flawless, and even showcasing minor flaws as powerful and shining moments to their advantages, A Seat at the Table is also flooded with filler tracks. At 21 tracks, there are so many entries here that, though still accompanying the album well, feels like an overdraft of ideas that are already mentioned in the full-length tracks themselves. And this has got to do with the interludes; some are inspiring, such as “The Glory is In You”, “Tina Taught Me”, “Pedestals”, “No Limits”, and “Dad Was Mad”, the remaining aren’t special or significant.
After nearly a decade, A Seat at the Table is a stunning offering that delves into racism, African-American culture, the everyday changes of generations, and about her own experiences as a woman growing up. Packed with heart-wrenching lyrics, subtle production and soulful and relaxing beats, A Seat at the Table is definitely a record that could push its observations of these issues into the light and inspire so many others with change, pride, and accomplishment.
Track lists (Bold means best tracks)
- Interlude: The Glory is You
- Cranes in the Sky ~Liam’s favorite~
- Interlude: Dad was Mad
- Mad (feat. Lil Wayne)
- Don’t You Wait
- Interlude: Tina Taught Me
- Don’t Touch My Hair (feat. Sampha)
- Interlude: This Moment
- Where Do We Go
- Interlude: For Us by Us
- F.U.B.U. (feat. The Dream and BJ the Chicago Kid)
- Borderline (An Ode to Self-Care) [feat. Q-Tip]
- Interlude: I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It (feat. Kelly Rowland and Nia Andrews)
- Interlude: No Limits
- Don’t Wish Me Well
- Interlude: Pedestals
- Scales (feat. Kelela)
- Closing: The Chosen Ones