Solange’s ‘A Seat At The Table’: Album Review

Rachel Sonis | October 4, 2016 9:07 am
“Fall in your ways, so you can crumble/ Fall in your ways, so you can sleep at night/ Fall in your ways, so you can wake up and rise.”

These are the first lines that kick off Solange’s third studio album, A Seat At The Table (released ). Her soft, lush coos stack on top of each other, gliding on a rising piano melody. She lets these words seep in, repeating them over and over, as if to call them to life from the dead. It’s a séance. And once fully summoned, these words are the force that drives this 21-song-long vessel forward.

It’s been a moment since we’ve heard from Solange — four years to be exact. The singer released her EP True back in 2012, a soulful mini-album that solidified her place in the annals of pop as a much-needed anomaly. That project torched trends and label strategy, existing first and foremost as a soaring expression of someone who defies the norm.

Now as she offers up her first full-length album in seven years, Solange returns to us as a healer. She’s become a championing voice in the fight against systemic racism and this work is undeniably a reflection of that. Solange expresses restlessness and anger in songs like “Weary” (The line “And you belong? I do, I do” comes from an essay she wrote about her recent Kraftwerk show incident) and “Mad,” assisted by the rightfully infuriated Lil Wayne. She shows frustration about the devastating effects of gentrification in the slow yet clobbering “Where Do We Go.” Topping it all off, No Limit Records pioneer Master P acts as the album’s resident Yoda, his wise musings weaved throughout in spurts.

Above all else, A Seat At The Table exists as a story of resilience within black culture. “Don’t Touch My Hair” sees Solo and English crooner Sampha stand strong against microagression. “F.U.B.U.” finds joy in spite of a racist America. And by the time the jubilant “Junie” hits, we see that the album is, at its very crux, a celebration of self acceptance.

A Seat At The Table is about feeling shamelessly beautiful. Its about weeding through the endless wreckage and coming out the other side stronger. It’s about the absolutely necessary exercise of faith.

Score: 4.5/5

Rachel Sonis

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