Review Roundup: Solange - 'A Seat at the Table'

  /  10.04.2016

The reviews have been served for Solange’s third album, A Seat at the Table.

Released last Friday, the LP features a slew of co-stars, including Lil Wayne, Kelly Rowland, Sampha, The-Dream, BJ the Chicago Kid, Tweet, and Q-Tip. So far, two visuals have come from this effort: “Cranes in the Sky” and “Don’t Touch My Hair.”

Upon releasing the 21-track effort, the R&B songstress called it “a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief, and healing.”

The critics have responded with rave reviews. The Los Angeles Times called it a “potent work,” while Rolling Stone declared it “beautiful and radical.” See a roundup below.

Rolling Stone: Her minimalist distillation of R&B, which takes into consideration not just the genre’s rich musical history but also its penchant for social commentary, has resulted in a stunning statement that redefines the old chestnut about the personal being political. In a volatile world increasingly defined by the brash and the crude, Solange’s packaging of brutal honesty in tender, harmony-rich murmurs is both beautiful and radical. 4/5

Los Angeles Times: Though she spent three years recording the album, A Seat at the Table is a potent work of black empowerment and protest that comes at a crucial time. It’s topical and urgent, reflecting the anger and unease of this divisive political season. For many black Americans, this is a time of pain. Debates on race relations and law enforcement have dominated the national conversation, and become a flashpoint of this year’s presidential race. Solange deftly explores the feelings that come with being told you’re not good enough, smart enough, beautiful or worthy enough due to the color of your skin.

EW: From the vocal harmonies of the opening cut “Rise” to the horns of “Closing: The Chosen Ones,” Knowles casts a spiritual vibe through the sophistication of her music and the purity of its intent: she wants us to know Solange and all that goes with it. A

Consequence of Sound: A Seat at the Table can be a bit monotone. Solange’s True EP had a wide assortment of sounds and a greater sense of color that this album’s dour chords and redolent horns can’t quite match. Plus, the interludes are all derived from the same sonic template as the songs, so the borders between tracks can be hazy, giving the album a meandering feel. That said, ultimately there’s something refreshing about Solange’s dreary, almost funereal compositions. Earlier in her career, Solange defined herself by what she was not. Here she evades definition entirely, bolted steadfast to the burden of the past, but stubbornly careening toward the future, life through death. Solange is R&B as hell. B

The Sydney Morning Herald It’s worth noting that there’s a crispness to the sound, richness in the textures and constant delights in the sonic undergrowth of this album. Even if you step away from the vocals you can drift on some serious bliss. But production (by Knowles and Raphael Saadiq) is not what defines A Seat at The Table, no more than anger does; it’s the mind and spirit of Solange. And that has left us with a superb and vitally important album.

The Guardian: It’s a world away from 2008’s peppier, poppier Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams or 2012’s indie-crossover-hit True EP. Guest spots from artists as diverse as Lil Wayne, Sampha, Tweet, and Kelela only serve to amplify Solange’s fascinating voice. It’s safe to say that though big sis Beyoncé has run her close recently, she’s once more the most intriguing Knowles sibling. 4/5


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