By Mike Dunn
On her first album in eight years, A Seat At The Table, Solange Knowles considerably raises her creative ante, while providing a strong female perspective concerning race and gender issues in 21st century America. In co-writing, producing, and arranging the album, Knowles proves not only a deft-yet-sensitive hand at vocalizing the strength and struggles of today’s women, but her skills as a composer and producer serve as an example of the highest degree of musical imagination and taste currently in pop music.
From the cascading intro harmonies of “Rise,” there’s an inkling that A Seat At The Table might be a more run-of-the-mill pop exercise, but the notion is quickly disregarded, as the opening cut never drops the beat, settling on vocals and Wurlitzer with a subtle high-hat/kick on the off beat to keep the cut off balance.
“Don’t Touch My Hair” is continually rising, with an arrangement brought to classy heights by classic ‘90s hip-hop horns that blaze into a sort of Daptone climax. It’s a shocking move for a pop record, but at this point, Knowles has confounded throughout, and her artistry, and reverence for the history of black pop music is well assured.
Solange Knowles is a singular artist, distinct and distant from her commercial pop past, and A Seat At The Table is a smart, unpredictable album that ought to position her as a serious voice in the social movements of her time, and breathes some life into a style that has long become sterile, rote, and endlessly greedy.A Seat At The Table, Solange