In 2016 Solange dropped A Seat At The Table, an earnest, vibrant expression of blackness, and one of the finest R&B records of recent memory. On her new album, When I Get Home, the younger Knowles sister explores the vibrant Houston of her youth. Complimented with a short film, it’s a bona-fide, free-flowing work of art that only confirms her repertoire as a brilliant and visionary artist.
Solange says that this album was meant to “bang and make your trunk rattle” as it blends jazz, hip-hop and electronic music. Revealing the slowed influence of late H-Town legend DJ Screw, songs like “Almeda” are a perfect example of this, complete with Solange’s insistent “brown liquor, brown skin, brown face” hook and a baby-voiced Playboi Carti. The blips and beeps of Pharrell’s production on “Sound of Rain” work awesomely with her voice. Juxtaposing Rhodes piano with the hard-hitting percussion, “Stay Flo” is the biggest head turner.
The album works as a cohesive piece, and while though there’s no “Cranes In The Sky” here (“Stay Flo” may come closest), some individual moments stand out. On “Time (Is),” Solange sings over jazzy piano for 2 minutes, before the motif loops and the beat drops, creating one of the coolest moments of the album. Evoking the loose delivery of Sister Nancy’s “Bam,” the sunny bop on “Binz” could have been the best song on the record if it didn’t end so soon.
When I Get Home is a record that’s greater than the sum of its parts, as vibrant as Houston itself. If it doesn’t have the immediate impact of its predecessor, its grooves will etch themselves further into your soul with every repeated listen.