Everything about Solange’s newest work When I Get Home is intentional. Even the release date had meaning. Solange dropped her latest album at midnight on March 1, right at the intersection of Black History Month and Women’s History Month. Her identity as a Black woman has always played a major role in her art and with the timing of this release, Solange let it be known that Black women are still at the heart of her work.
When I Get Home is Solange’s first album since her Grammy Award winning masterpiece, A Seat at the Table. It was a very thoughtful album full of interesting interludes, carefully crafted lyrics and clear breakout hit songs like “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
Her newest album is also thoughtful and loaded with interludes and “run that back” lyrics, but there’s no “Don’t Touch My Hair” here and that’s fine, more than fine. Solange did not create A Seat at the Table Part 2 (which some fans seemed to have been expecting). She created a completely new work that feels just as genuine and artistic as her previous art, but in its own way.
When I Get Home has a chill Houston kickback vibe with tinges of jazz and a touch of trunk-rattling bass on a couple songs. Even though the album has 19 tracks, total listening time is just under 40 minutes, but Solo packs in a lot. There are themes of Black pride, self-empowerment, and of course Houston.
She has a long list of big-name collaborators on the album like Pharrell, the Dream, Gucci Mane and Raphael Saadiq, yet even with so many hands on deck, the album is sonically very cohesive. The tracks so seamlessly transition into one another that it’s almost like listening to one song with distinct parts.
That cohesive feel is due in no small part to the fact that Solange has writing credits on every track and producer credits on every track save for one interlude. With so much talent on the album (everyone from Phylicia Rashad to Diamond and Princess from Crime Mob), the album needed a steady hand at the helm and Solange does just that.
There is playfulness on songs like the very laid back “My Logo My Skin” where Solange literally giggles during her verse. It feels like listeners were invited to a puff-puff-pass session in somebody’s Houston basement. It’s welcoming and very down to Earth.
The Pharrell-produced “Almeda” is probably the most head-nodding track. Some of the lyrics read like an alternative National Black Anthem.
Brown liquor, brown liquor
Brown skin, brown face
Brown leather, brown sugar
Brown leaves, brown keys
Brown creepers, brown face
Black skin, black braids
Black waves, black days
Black baes, black things
These are black-owned things
There’s also “Dreams” where Solange’s voice has an airy, hazy sound that perfectly suits the title of the song. Every track has purpose and meaning, but it’s not overkill with a message hammer.
Solange is a vocal performer and a visual artist. As this album gets more spins and as she performs, there is no doubt that new layers will be added as well as clarity of some of the lyrical and musical layers. She has already announced a series of “album experiences” at various locations (a church, a salon, a tire shop, etc) in Houston.
The early hot take “review” after a weekend of listening is that When I Get Home is a bold, smart, sonically interesting album that will secure a solid position in Solange’s ever evolving list of artistic achievements.