A Seat at the Table
Although I'm sure all of you are familiar with Beyoncé (she has dominated the music scene for over a decade), people are generally not as familiar with her sister, Solange, who has been rocking the music and visual art scene with her most recent album A Seat at the Table.
Throughout this R&B album, Solange crafts a narrative of black womanhood and self-empowerment starting with the first track, “Rise,” which is one of the best album openers I’ve heard of late. The instruments are somewhat scarce, but they are a fantastic canvas for the song’s colorful harmonies.
On the track “Mad,” Solange draws on the archetype of the angry black woman, saying that she’s “got a lot to be mad about.” This subject matter--paired with light-hearted instrumentation that highlights a catchy piano riff, pulsing bass line, and well-placed harmonies--makes for a track that is a standout on the album.
Solange also brings in funkier tunes with such songs as “Where Do We Go,” in which she describes the experience of not having a place to belong; and “F.U.B.U.,” which elicits an intense pride in black people being able to create a place to thrive. These songs boast some of the most involved instrumentation on the album: prominent keyboards, with heavy jazz influence, drive the beat, while keeping a consistent drumbeat-free, flowing bass line that makes the rest of the album feel warm and soulful.
“Where Do We Go” and “F.U.B.U.”are sensational, but the star of the album is the Grammy-winning lead single, “Cranes in the Sky,” one of the most personal songs on the track list. Solange chronicles the ways in which she attempts to deal with her problems through various forms of escapism, which she likens to the never-ending construction carried out by the hydraulic cranes she sees dotting the skies of the city. In keeping with the rest of the album, the use of instruments, while not showy, is very effective, in creating a serene and airy quality that makes the tune a go-to for quiet nights in.
The album as a whole has a very quiet energy that makes it a must-listen for anyone wanting both lyrical depth and musicality.
--Rachael Murdock '18