Beyonce's younger sister,
debuted at age 16 with the album Solo Star (2002), but had to wait until
Sol-Angel and the Hadley St Dreams (2008) to get some recognition for
her pop-soul style that referenced the Tamla Motown soul of the Sixties
(even including collaborations with Lamont Dozier). It yielded the singles
Sandcastle Disco and
She ascended the ranks of dance music via the EP True (2012), reminiscent of synth-pop of the 1980s, and the
verbose, polemic, provocative neosoul
album A Seat at the Table (2016), that contains the single
Cranes in the Sky as well as the black nationalist anthem F.U.B.U.
When I Get Home (2019) was her intellectual and experimental album,
de facto a concept about her hometown of Houston,
accompanied by a feature-length video,
The album is fragmented into brief songs
(mostly two-minute long) and six even briefer interludes.
Its dreamy, "ambient" atmosphere and repetitive phrasing
Laurie Anderson's music, or, at least,
a histrionic imitation of it: glossy chromatic arrangements,
disembodied melodies, tepid dance beats.
It may not be a coincidence that Solange had just turned to performance art
(in museums such as the Hammer in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim in New York).
The most Anderson-ian (i.e. hypnotic) songs are at the very beginning:
Things I Imagined, with an alien, spectral arrangement,
and Down With The Clique, in which she imitates the
shrill register of Kate Bush.
The latter is also one of the pieces that are infiltrated by jazz, and
way more successful than Stay Flo (tedious soul-jazz-hop fusion)
or My Skin My Logo
(a conversational duet with Gucci Mane that ends with sensual orgasmic humming).
Her vocals shin in the
delicate crooning of Dreams, in the
velvety whispered lounge ballad Time Is (that Panda Bear, Sampha Sisay and Tyler The Creator try repeatedly to ruin), in
Beltway, a swooning lullaby
inside an electronic (and slightly psychedelic) nebula,
and in the ethereal Jerrod, sung as if floating in the stratosphere.
At the other end of the spectrum, the album contains more conventional, upbeat
songs such as the
sensual funky-soul Way To The Show,
the frivolous pseudo-Caribbean soul-hop Binz (a duet with The-Dream),
the parodistic exotic synth-pop of Sound Of Rain,
and especially the soul-hop duet with Playboi Carti Almeda
(co-produced by Pharrell of the Neptunes
with a trotting metallic beat and jarring staccato keyboards).
A cast of producers helped sculpt these songs (that would amount to very little
on the album of any average digital composer).
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