Album Review: When I Get Home

Hayden Fowler

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A queen of R&B/Soul, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She is Solange.

Solange Knowles’ “When I Get Home” perfectly illustrates the popularity that is soul music. Tranquil sounds, soft, yet sweet vocals, and stunning background features radiate throughout the entire album and all represent what Solange stands for: beauty.

At a length of 39 minutes, “When I Get Home” flawlessly follows up Knowles’ 2016 album “A Seat At the Table” and encompasses modern styles of soul not generally featured on albums recently released.

After giving fans small teases of the album a few days prior to the release, Knowles released her fourth studio album on Mar. 1, 2019. Fans of the singer/songwriter had long awaited her return after not receiving much content for almost three years. The wait was completely worth it. Although the album may not present a long runtime, the set-list on its own makes up for it.

Throughout the album, Knowles presents “an exploration of [her] roots and their lifelong influence” and a wide array of examples of her hometown life of Houston, Texas.

From Tyler, the Creator to Playboi Carti, Knowles utilizes a multitude of talent to provide the best content for her viewers. The diverse group of sounds performed by the guest features only strengthens the album as a whole and embodies creativity in the R&B genre.

Lyrical repetition stands out as a key factor on “When I Get Home”. Although in some cases this may be considered a weak contribution to a musical performance, this is not so when it comes to the album’s intro “Things I Imagined” and other songs like “Way to the Show” and “Dreams”.

The album’s introduction, as previously mentioned, showcases delicate vocals from the singer and gentle, yet vivacious keyboards from start to finish. A smooth transition comes next in the form of “S McGregor (Interlude)”. Even at only 16 seconds, the shift in poetic energy can be recognized and fights for the album’s superiority when it comes to sound.

“Down with the Clique’s” jazz elements reminiscences on many of Knowles’ previous songs like those found throughout “A Seat at the Table”. Although it may not be one of the strongest songs on the album, it definitely puts listeners in a relaxing mood.

As Knowles began to post teasers on different forms of social media, “Way to the Show” was heavily featured and for a good reason. As easily one of the best songs on “When I Get Home”, the track switches from light to dark tones constantly and sets standards high for the rest of the album. “Stay Flo” shortly follows after another unique interlude and provides fragrant harmonies and interesting electronic instrumentals.

Knowles’ storytelling specifically comes into play with another strong track: “Dreams”. Accompanied by an alluring bass guitar riff by Raphael Saadiq, “Dreams” reintroduces Knowles’ nostalgic memories of Houston and her childhood. The interlude “Nothing Without Intention” trails “Dreams” and delightfully flows into “Almeda” featuring Playboi Carti and The-Dream. This song brings in heavy electronic beats with a mix of well-ordered piano and
“serves as a shoutout to Black people in general” in a “positive light”.

Other standouts spotlighted on the album include “Time (Is)”, “Binz”, “Sound of Rain”, and “I’m a Witness”.

“Time (Is)” highlights melancholic tones through the use of deep bass guitars, minor piano chords, and dim background vocals. Major “A Seat at the Table” vibes can be found all over this album but specifically in this song. “Binz” offers another approach to Knowles’ style similar to that found in “Almeda” and brilliantly approaches many fans of the Hip-Hop genre with its contemporary drum-set technique and lyrics. Earth-like elements are presented in the form of the ironically named “Sound of Rain” and showcase a fast-paced lyrical performance and repetitive rhyme scheme. To complete the album, Knowles offers “I’m a Witness”. The harmonious phrases “good night” and “takin’ on the light” single-handedly end the album on an extremely high note.

Now, although the album may not have directly appealed to me the first time listening through, I had respect for it right off the bat. A three year hiatus can lead to many things. Whether it’s a new style of music or overall, a less or more attractive sound, change is inevitable when it comes to taking time to write new music. But, in Solange’s case, only positive adjustments were found in “When I Get Home”. I have to admit it took a while to enjoy the album but, after listening to it for the second or third time, I came to realize what a good album “When I Get Home” truly was.

To anyone who is a fan of Solange or is even just beginning to listen to her music or soul music in general, this album provides amazing vibes and good sounds to relax to. Overall, I highly recommend this album.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10