"I am overwhelmed with gratitude & excitement to share this work I've written and created, with you... #ASeatAtTheTable" - Solange
"A Seat at the Table" is the album we didn't know we wanted but was rather the album we needed! Solange gives us a throwback in sound that still manages to transform itself into something sonically new and futuristic. The juxtaposing elements are made magic with a sound that feels old despite it's originality. "A Seat At The Table" is so unapologetically Black - powerful, emotive and full of soul. It's been a long time coming - Solange started recording music for her third album release back in 2010 and throughout the years said it was "more than an album to me. It's a transitional time in my life" that had her breaking down and sacrificing "mentally, emotionally and financially". In the midst of it all Solange managed to create her own label and creative company, Saint Heron, launching in 2013 with the idea that the new album would be released through her own label and so she did!
The album full of neo-soul, funk, R&B, psychedelic soul and contemporary inspirations, pulls together with layers of gorgeous harmonies, sweetly soft melodies from Solange herself and lyrics that are filled with desperation, anger, empowerment and love. It's so mad to think that "Cranes In The Sky" was written 8 years ago, with lyrics to alleviate pain and it does exactly that. As the track progresses it becomes more upbeat and like much of the album, feels like an emotional release. I feel like she also demonstrates great vocal growth with this album and on this track in particular we get to hear Minnie Rippleton-esque high notes which were seemingly years in the making. I guess timing really is everything. Contextually, the album is very much needed in a time where people of colour are feeling deflated, unheard and completely devalued by a society, that for what ever reason, doesn't understand us or doesn't want to. Solange has written music that provides a circle of understanding and discussion which says "this shit is for us" to those who don't accept it. Below you can watch the two videos she released shortly after the album, one for the powerful "Don't Touch My Hair" that'll get you moving, which features the husky voiced talents of Sampha and the visual for the long awaited "Cranes In The Sky", both of which are directed by Solange Knowles herself, alongside her husband Alan Ferguson.
Throughout the album there is commentary from various figures of inspiration in Solange's life like her mother Tina Knowles, but noticeably is the inspiring life telling from Master P, Hip-Hop legend and arguably the original self made Hip-Hop mogul, starting out just from the back of his trunk as he tells in the album. By just even projecting the life story of a successful Black man the way she does on the album, provides a sense of hope and strength that is very relevant. Extended with the meditate "Scales" featuring Kelela that speaks of being unapologetic and reminding you that "the world says you're a failure [...] but you're a superstar". Uplifting is an understatement and I am in awe of Solange for creating an album that has so much depth. The Knowles family has no limit when it comes to talent! Listening to the emotional highs and lows within the album reminded me of something I wasn't even aware I needed to be told - that there is so much beauty in being black and loving the skin you live in amongst the chaos.
Interestingly much of the album was written entirely by Solange along to piano chords that she herself composed, it was only later on that she introduced various producers into the project to help her create the layered instrumentals surrounding each track, so she is truly at the core of this album with it being projection of her inner thoughts and experiences. Get a glimpse of the creation of various songs at their early stages with her documentary that starts with the video below. Solange said it is "a look at the early days of jam sessions, experimentation, and the exploring of sounds and ideas for the album." Bask in the magic.