Solange Stay True to Her Roots With “When I Get Home”
Rather than have her audience experience her latest album as a means to an end, Solange Knowles decides to create a world of visual and auditory art for the listener to inhabit. “When I Get Home” is a meditative album that takes on the concept of home, who inhabits it, and the memories that surround it. Her sound retains the melodic jazz/R&B influence of her previous work, but also experiments with electronic and hip hop elements intermingled throughout the album. What sets “When I Get Home” apart is the inherent lack of hooks or rush to reach a crescendo throughout the album. Knowles explained this creative decision to Fader saying, “With this album I had so much to feel. Words would have been reductive to what I needed to feel and express. It’s in the sonics for me.” Each song acts as a waymark of abstract thought, rather than a direct course.
Abstract art exists along a continuum. Meaning, as perfection is elusive, all art can be said to possess a degree of abstraction. Solange’s consciousness lies somewhere between the reality of her hometown and the dreams of her future. A great example of this is her opening track. The track “Things I Imagined” shifts harmonies in a flux of hazy synths and electronic piano. There are no other lyrics aside from the repeated mantra “I saw things I imagined”, followed by the reaffirming “taking on the light”. With a total of 5 interludes and one intermission, “When I Get Home” takes on a steady stream of consciousness, only breaking from spoken monologues to return to carefully orchestrated harmonies.
A few more honorable stand outs are “Way To The Show”, “Stay Flo”, and “Almeda”. If you were to close your eyes you could hear the sound of children in Emancipation Park, the hum of traffic driving on crowded streets, and the chatter from a crowded hair salon as “Way To The Show” starts playing. An homage to her hometown, “Way To The Show” steals the show as it speaks of candy paint down cars and a throwback sound electro-funk beat speaking love on the one and only H-Town. “Stay Flo” plays on soulful H-Town swagger, riding a production made by Metro Boomin. Solange sees Houston in a way that only she can, fearless and filled with timeless Hip-Hop influences. Celebrating black culture and black solidarity is “Almeda”. “Almeda” is a showstopping collaboration with Playboi Carti, The Dream, and Solange that revisits the chopped and screwed genre from Houston in the 90’s. Lyrics of “Almeda” drip with black excellence and brown sugar saying “Black skin, black braids, black waves, these are black things” once again showing Solange’s dedication to the fight for racial equality.
Perhaps the hardest accomplishment for an artist is to remain true to themselves. To move forward you must honor the past behind you, and Solange accomplishes exactly that. Whether it's by choosing to include collaborators that represent her hometown sound or by carefully crafting interludes that exposition on black solidarity, Solange creates a compendium of her past and future. And this is what makes “When I Get Home” an album worth remembering.