>> Solange attempts to follow up her last release with a project that is just as reflective, introspective, and gorgeous as that previous effort, to varying degrees of success.
Solange Knowles has been fairly active in the r&b/pop scene since 2003, but made a big breakthrough with her release of 2016’s 'A Seat At The Table'. On that release, she managed to weave a tapestry of self-expression and reflection that connected with many and garnered her some long awaited and well deserved commercial and critical success. 'When I Get Home' seems to be a spiritual successor to that record in many ways, and to a degree, she succeeds in maintaining that tapestry that she wove four years prior. Despite there being more varied and eclectic ideas and influences throughout, allowing her to escape some of the trappings of a traditional r&b or neo-soul record, everything still feels grounded in the same reality and well connected. The production on these songs is very well layered, moody, and atmospheric, and her songwriting lends itself to said production very well. On top of that, Solange is definitely embarking on some new ideas that she hadn’t been exploring previously, experimenting, and journeying through the tracklist that feels quite a bit more cheeky and humorous, adding a new depth of personality compared to her last effort.
Where Solange falls flat compared to 'A Seat At The Table', unfortunately, is a bit of stiffness in the instrumentals, coupled with a lack of expression in Solange’s singing in many of these cuts. This often proves to be a double-edged sword for her. Sometimes the flat, mellow way she delivers her vocals add a whole new personality to a track when the track is really fun, wavy, and bouncy. Other times, when the track lays pretty bare, she does the song little service by staying monotone. It’s really in this that the cracks in the record show, making it feel relatively inferior to the much more progressive way she handled this issue previously. The latter half of the project feels more playful, and while it lacks a little focus because of that, it at least feels a lot more personal than the initial half, which feels a bit toned down and bland.
'When I Get Home' is a surely a mixed bag, but there are no songs here that feel objectively bad, they just don’t feel to be as much of an accomplishment as some of Solange’s previous efforts, both on this record and off of it. Because of that, her process and delivery can feel a little less expert and a little more amateur. There are still many illuminating moments and a gorgeous cohesive flow that make this worth a listen, just for the beauty that is inherent in much of this project. This isn’t Solange at her best, but it certainly isn’t her at her worse and offers the listener many reflective moments and fun groove to enjoy. 3.4/5 <<