A Seat at the Table
It can’t be easy to step out from an older sibling’s shadow, especially if that sibling is millennial icon Beyoncé. However, Solange Knowles has stepped into her own spotlight. To call her new album a throwback would be a disservice to its true nature as an innovative record that also calls on deep funk and R&B roots. With co-production and arrangements by Raphael Saadiq, it’s something refined, but not overly polished. Knowles creates modest, grounded vocal melodies that hook not with their poppiness, but their pure sincerity. The strength of the album comes both from its elegant melodic mood and Knowles’ lyrical examination of her identity as a black woman, told through lenses of historical indignities to the black community and a deep pride in personal heritage. There are interludes throughout from an interview with rapper Master P, who also provides earnest enlightenment. The album doesn’t have poppy peaks and slow-jam valleys; its entirety radiates something substantial, proud and long-lasting.