Artist of the week: Solange
Being the sister of one Beyoncé Knowles can cast on you an overwhelming shadow. If one can argue that, during her musical career, Solange seemed at times in the verge of either accepting her sister’s influence (check the retro-soul feel and bluntness of her first two solo albums) or succumbing to the media pressure of the Knowles surname (the elevator accident with Jay Z and the temporary fallout with Dev Hynes), she recently proved to be an artist successfully struggling to find her own voice. First, it was the True EP (2012), a short collection of immaculate songs co-penned with Blood Orange; and then a series of thoughtful essays addressing her condition of an Afro-American woman in a white and masculine dominated world.
Nevertheless, nothing actually prepared us to the focused scope and attention to detail of her new album, A Seat at the Table. Joining forces with luminaries figures such as Raphael Saadiq, Dave Longstreth, and Adam Bainbridge, Solange delivers a surprising tender and elegant take on pro-black reflections that deeply delve into the frustration and anger of how African-Americans are being treated in the twentieth-first century. What could easily be a simplistic cathartic record anchored in such revolting and problematic themes, turns out to be instead a truly classic neo-soul and R&B album that makes the listener levitates as if they were listening to the most soothing and thoughtful take on segregation and cultural theft since the glorious days of Erykah Badu. A Seat at the Table is a benevolent tour-de-force that immediately finds its place amongst 2016 most daring and enjoyable records. Consider yourselves served.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.