Wednesday, August 28, 2019

"A Seat at the Table" by Solange (150 Albums By Women #134)

NPR compiled a list of the 150 greatest albums created by women. I've decided to listen to these albums, from #150 all the way up to #1. But to give myself a bit of forward momentum and have a sense of when I was "done" with each album, my method is to listen to the album one time all the way through, then with each subsequent listen, I'd remove my least favorite. This lets me listen to the best ones most frequently without having to sit through too many that didn't work for me at all.

I have actually listened to two albums on this list but never got around to writing about my top five from The B-52's self-titled debut album, and I don't expect to. Rather than wait around until I have something inspiring to say about it, I'm moving on to writing about #134!

Solange is Solange Knowles, aka Beyonce's younger sister. This is her third studio album and her first number-one album on the Billboard Top 200. It took me a little while to get into this one -- the musical sound has a very chill, low-energy feel to it, and that often can take awhile for me to like. What sold it for me ultimately was how empowering and high-energy the lyrics themselves were. While the music might feel passive to me at times, the lyrics are anything but. They are passionate and angry and smart and interesting, and that pulled me in.

My top 5:

5. Interlude: I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It
There are almost as many interludes on this album as there are full songs, but this was the only one that really stood out to me. It's a tiny, under-a-minute song featuring Solange and two other singers singing about not letting anyone steal your magic. Even with how short it is, I find it empowering, and I love how playful they sound when they sing, "But I got so much, y'all!" There's so much confidence in the power they have, it leads to generosity. It just makes me smile.

4. Rise
This super simple, really lovely little mantra song opens the album. For awhile there in the middle I thought its repetitiveness would kick it out earlier, but I continued to really appreciate this every time I heard it.

3. Mad
I have never heard such a chill song about being angry before, and at first that didn't work for me at all, but then I started hearing the vibe as one of just being tired, and that suddenly clicked. I like the lyric, "You've got the right to be mad" and "I got a lot to be mad about" -- they're simple but poignant. And while I've never really been a Lil Wayne fan, I like his verses a lot here.

2. Cranes in the Sky
This is such a great, mournful tune. The lyrics to the verses especially, about trying to find different ways to distract from the pain, are just great. This is one that I don't know if I have a lot of words about, but it's just a solid tune and connects with me every time.

1. F.U.B.U.
...Is it strange that my favorite song on this album is one that repeatedly states it is not for me? But I love how beautifully the super chill vibe of the album works with these lyrics. It's less intensely anthemic and more just matter-of-fact: "Some sh*t is for us." And it's awesome.

The albums I've listened to thus far in this project, in order:
  1. The Roches - The Roches
  2. Robyn - Body Talk
  3. Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
  4. The Breeders - Last Splash
  5. Patty Griffin - Flaming Red
  6. Iris Dement - My Life
  7. Solange - A Seat at the Table
  8. Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas
  9. Alicia Keys - Songs in A Minor
  10. The B-52's - The B-52's
  11. The Bangles - All Over the Place
  12. Yoko Ono - Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
  13. Oumou Sangaré - Moussolou
  14. Terri Lyne Carrington - The Mosaic Project