Given the socio-political landscape of our current times, Solange's A Seat At The Table is an album of incredible pertinence. Whilst the Black Lives Matter movement highlights the unequal treatment of black people worldwide, the current rise in racially aggravated attacks suggests that humanity is regressing in certainly more ways than one. Independently released via her own label Saint Records, Solange's third studio album is an ode to her heritage, a letter of empowerment, and a critical observation of her experiences as a black woman in a country where the potential for Donald Trump to become president is a reality.
A Seat At The Table takes you on a trip from the conscious, through the subconscious and to the unsaid thoughts. The translucent Rise elegantly introduces us to the first chapter of this sonic journey, as inflections of pianos and gentle drumming flourishes meld together as one entity against Solange’s mellifluous tone. Weary is assertive yet laced with fragility, a feeling that seeps into the mellow dulcet vibes of Cranes In The Sky before progressing through to a brighter stage of self-acceptance. Throughout Solange addresses the racial microaggressions inflicted upon black communities. F.U.B.U tackles the various examples of discrimination that one can face on a daily basis, whilst Don’t Touch My Hair is unrepentantly direct about the personal invasion of space, “They don’t understand what it means to me/ This hair is my shit.”
Interludes feature as poignant moments, with Solange utilising each one to acknowledge the past, present and future of black liberation. Interlude: Dad Was Mad discusses the racial segregation of the 60s, Interlude: This Moment explores the racial inequalities of capitalist systems whilst Interlude: No Limits converses about succeeding no matter what barriers may exist.
A Seat At The Table is musically a sophisticated and powerful piece of work, infused with stripped back R&B beats and 80s electro. Lyrically unapologetic and emotive, Solange creates a space for debates surrounding themes of race and identity, issues which have often been and are still silenced in today's world. It is a testament to prosperity of the social kind and an invitation to everyone who wants to listen.
Words: Lois Browne