Review: A Seat at the Table by Solange Knowles

A Seat at the Table by Solange KnowlesThe last name alone says a lot about Solange Knowles: even if it never really was the case, there was always the perception that she’s just playing second fiddle to her more popular sister, Beyoncé. She has done things her own way, of course – “Losing You”, from her last EP True, got a fair amount of play – but she has seemingly decided to be more deliberate in her work. A Seat at the Table, her first full-length album in eight years, suggests this approach has paid off. Deliberately-paced, diverse in its influences and decisive in its approach, it is not a record built for pop hits. Solange has instead taken the opportunity to make sense of who she is and where she stands. It is a statement on the black experience without preening heavily on current events, choosing instead to explore cultural heritage and personal stories, down to clips of her parents in the interludes, down to perhaps a personal snippet from Lil Wayne on “Mad”. Produced (with Raphael Saadiq) with a light touch, focusing firmly on the message, A Seat at the Table is powerful without being overbearing. You might miss the grander message, but at least you know Solange is comfortable where she is. [NB]4/5

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