"But John, you forgot to mention the theme song of "The Proud Family"!"Saint / Columbia, 2016
8.8 / 10
Solange, until this year, was known for only a handful of things, few of which involved her artistry. She’s put out some undeniably great music, most notably “I Decided” and a funky cover of the Dirty Projectors’s “Stillness Is the Move”, but the world at large knew her as Beyonce’s sister who attacked Jay-Z in an elevator, an action that was ridiculed and mocked at the time and, following Lemonade, now registers as totally justified. A Seat at the Table announces itself as a bold, head-turner of an album, as does that Knowles announces herself as Solange now. Time will tell if these moves will change the public’s perception, but it’d be a shame if it didn’t.
The obvious move is to compare Table to Lemonade, but it is an unfair move. Lemonade is better, for one thing, but Table isn’t as concerned with smacking over the head with meaning or being as flagrantly bold. Table, above all else (even its stated pro-black politics), is Solange’s go at Baduesque neo-soul, presenting a space to explore without urgency to get to the chorus. Some might call this too airy; I call it patience. The mix of the personal, political, and pleasant results in an album that has maybe one or two duds and a whole lot of standouts, chief among them “Don’t Touch My Hair”. I don’t know that this is the best pop album of the year, but it is a tight race.