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Album review: Solange — When I Get Home

Evolving: Solange Knowles PICTURE: REX


Solange — When I Get Home

Saint/Columbia ★★★★✩

THIS is a whole new situation for Solange. As the sibling of the world’s most luminous pop star, she was bound to be overshadowed; to be merely the other Knowles sister. But Beyonce’s sister has turned those low expectations to her advantage: 2016’s knockout punch of an album,

A Seat At The Table, came from the blind side, showing she was her own woman — and her own, remarkable artist. So now, with its follow-up (pictured below), the competition is herself.

She had promised that this new album would ‘bang and make your trunk rattle’ — suggesting a stark contrast to the slow-burning quality of her breakthrough. Again, she confounds expectations. She’s as good as her word, but not remotely in the way you would imagine.

Far from being heavier, faster and more forceful, When I Get Home is lighter, more languid, more tantalising, often bordering on the abstract. At its best it diffuses softly in the air like vapour. Its melodies are fluid, its largely electronic instrumentation is spare — and, it is implied, solely Solange’s work.

Indeed, despite a small army of guest performers, she is responsible for nearly all the music and lyrics. Which is an intriguing thought given that it reflects the sense of an ongoing meditation — a slow, drifting, sensuous excursion through its creator’s evolving thoughts about sex and identity.

R&B today is the most vital, persuasive example of the principle that has kept pop moving forward from the start: that music can be at once adventurous, experimental and commercial. When I Get Home very much affirms Solange’s seat at that table.