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Solange - When I Get Home (Album Review)

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 Written by Milly McMahon

Photo: Max Hirschberger

Reminiscing on her formative years, discovering self, music and style, Solange Knowles has crafted ‘When I Get Home’, a love letter to her hometown, Houston. Mood-boarding intimate influences and inspirations, in both sound and cinema, this 19 track compendium arrived spanning both mediums alongside a stunning short film.

The irreverence and intelligence demonstrated by Solange's progressive vision is striking. Tracks move in unison, like tributaries all flowing towards one river. Each piece contributes to an all-encompassing aesthetic, revealed only after the whole comes into view. Her work here is meditative and contemplative, pushing away from the hyper-literate ‘A Seat At The Table’ into something more open-ended.

Perhaps Solange named this album ‘When I Get Home’ because that is where she has arrived at within herself—comfortable enough to finally produce art that is wholly representative of who she is emotionally and spiritually. There are no formulaic structures, nor commercial production considerations, apparent in her sound today.

The instrumentals and production choices here are soothing. Sound Of Rain contains serotonin-inducing tones and chimes, and Way To The Show sends nods to Beyoncé's sensual vocals. In fact, Solange now seems more comfortable using her voice more conventionally, despite the free-form tone of the music.

Noting the late Houston hip hop pioneer DJ Screw as an ever-present influence on her creative process, Solange teamed up with Pharrell, Tyler The Creator, Metro Boomin, Earl Sweatshirt, Panda Bear, Dev Hynes and more to flesh out ‘When I Get Home’. Way To The Show and Binz already sound like classics, as does standout track Stay Flo.

Interludes throughout suggest ideas of strong sexual identity and female empowerment, without resorting to overbearing mission statements. On We Deal With The Freak’n a voice calls out: “Do you realize how magnificent you are? The God that created you is a divine architect that created the moon, the sun, the stars, Jupiter, Mars, Pluto, Venus. We are not only sexual beings, we are the walking embodiment of God consciousness.”

Demonstrating the diligence and brilliance of an unparalleled songwriter and artist pushing her genre forward right now, Solange is also making music that will still be enjoyed 20 years into the future.

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