ALBUM REVIEW – Beyonce – Lemonade

 

One would say that every time Beyonce releases an album, it’s an event. It’s grandiose display of well-tailored talent and perfectionism with each release. The 2013 self-titled release saw Beyonce dive into her more explicit and sultry overtones. As we go on throughout her career, she pulls the curtain back even more which makes her even more relatable – where for most of her career, she is elevated to almost legendary status. There’s strength in the breakdown – the newest album, Lemonade is not only her most fiery and personal to date, it humanizes Beyonce to the point where it brings an entirely new element into her almost 20-year career. The cracks and gashes within Beyonce’s armor makes her seem her strongest yet – that’s a telltale sign of a great artist.

With this album, there are many whispers and speculation as to who it’s about and to do that, you almost miss the point of the entire journey of the album. There are so many themes you can take from it alone that commands a full and uninterrupted listen. This is a woman who goes through the perils and tug of war of love and emerges triumphant..and sometimes doesn’t. Love is a funny thing where it will lift you up a mountain the one minute and toss your heart off the next. “Pray You Catch Me,” the James Blake assisted track tingled with piano and an orchestral closing, is an introduction of the tornado-like emotion that you experience listening to this album. If you did not watch the visual aspect of the album (you definitely should), the musical aspect has a movie-esque feel to it where Beyonce is narrating the perilous aspects of her lover being unfaithful. Blake surfaces again in “Forward,” where it’s interesting using a man’s voice to depict Beyonce’s nature to move on and especially when their voices converge during the lines (Go back to your sleep in your favorite spot next to me).  Everything about this album is well thought out and calculated.

Lemonade flawlessly goes throughout many musical genres while holding true to the mold of Beyonce. There’s rock, R&B, pop, even country to name a few. Each of these genres depict a different shade of the album well. There is also a lot of dualism when it comes to the meaning of many of these songs – whether it be themes or people. “Hold Up” uses the chorus from Yeah Yeah Yeah‘s 2003 hit, “Maps” to further depict the confusion of someone. “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” is an absolute rock anthem aided by Jack White which has many layers to it. It continues the story line of a woman wanting to get revenge on her ex-lover and in the visual representation of the album concludes with Beyonce throwing the ring at the camera. This is the fever pitch of anger with the love lost story line. “Daddy Lessons,” which is Beyonce’s first venture into the country music realm shows the give and take between a woman’s relationship with her father. There’s inference to a “death”, but where it could reference her personal relationship (or lack thereof) with her own father and the irony that he warns her about bad men coming into her life in the future. Self-fulfilling prophecy. The most moving number of the album may be “Sandcastles” which would be the main ballot. Beyonce is broken by love and you hear it as her voice doesn’t hold form which carries this beautiful sadness about the breakdown of love itself.

Power is a theme revisited in “Freedom,” in this case of a strong black woman as a call to arms to others like her to not be afraid and not be ashamed of who they are. Kendrick Lamar‘s verse (but mama don’t cry for me/try for me/live for me/breathe for me/sing for me) is interesting in a couple ways; it’s a black man echoing  the call for black women to be strong and it’s also the words of what would Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Will some people feel uncomfortable? Sure – but progress never starts at a point of comfort.

Now the album ends to conclude it’s two main themes. “All Night”is a beautiful mid-tempo number that shows although love wins in the end, it’s not without scars sustained on the battlefield. You listen to this song and are almost happy that Beyonce has reached some reprieve. The much talked about “Formation” is the last declaration of Beyonce embracing this new found freedom in all that she is. I am very hard pressed to find many artists six albums in that shows an array of deep emotions such as Lemonade. The best story you can tell is within your art and Beyonce has left no stone unturned in the defining statement of her career. We put many of our heroes on a pedestal that we may never reach – this shows that there is just as much strength in being supremely confident in all aspects of yourself.

9/10

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