Why Solange’s surprise new album is a ‘black-owned thing’


Those Knowles sisters sure do love the element of surprise.

After Beyoncé started the trend of surprise album drops with her 2013 self-titled set — and then followed that up with two more surprises in 2016’s “Lemonade” and last year’s “Everything Is Love” (a collaboration with husband Jay-Z) — her younger sister Solange has pulled off a shock of her own with her new LP, “When I Get Home.”

On Thursday, Solange teased that the follow-up to 2016’s critically acclaimed “A Seat at the Table” would be released at midnight Friday, so it did come with a slight heads-up. Still, no one saw this coming.

The album proves that “A Seat at the Table” — which, along with ‘Lemonade,” gave the Knowles sisters what this critic considered the two best albums of 2016 — was no fluke. “When I Get Home” cements the fact that Solange, to her credit, has found her own place in a Beyoncé world.

A dreamy tapestry that feels like a real, cohesive album — while lacking an obvious single such as the Grammy-winning “Cranes in the Sky” from “A Seat at the Table” — the new LP demonstrates that, as artists, Solange and Beyoncé are more like distant cousins than sisters.

In fact, Solange conjures up a vibe more akin to the ethereal Erykah Badu in her “Worldwide Underground/New Amerykah” phase, as songs and interludes seamlessly flow into each other with a jazzy sensibility.

Solange’s lithe soprano floats above it all in layered, intricate vocal arrangements that take you to otherworldly places. Meanwhile, the singer continues to display a lyrical consciousness that has a distinct black-womanly aesthetic.