Beyoncé – Lemonade Review 

 Beyoncé is back with her sixth studio album and for it she has took a rather different approach. The title “Lemonade” comes from her grandmother-in-law Hattie White, who stated on her 90th birthday that “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.” This theme of struggle is one that resonates strongly in the album, whether it be a story of a man who cheated on his loving partner or the story of a young black woman growing up in the United States. The album deserves props for this and it brings forward a lot of real world issues into the mainstream.  

​Musically, it gets even more interesting. The album itself didn’t really release any main singles as it was all made available on Tidal at the same time. However, the “main” song on the album is arguably ‘Hold Up’, a different sort of song than you’d usually hear from a Beyonce album. The song has a nice, soft reggae backing beat that leaves the focus on the lyrics and what they stand for. The song is about the betrayal a woman feels after a man cheats on her, which if the allegations are true, comes from a very personal experience by Knowles. The experience transcribes into some well written, somewhat disjointed lyrics that fit seamlessly with the simple beat. When you look at the writers of ‘Hold Up’ , there is an impressive line up of various styles. From Father John Misty to Soulja Boy to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even Mort Shuman, who co-wrote Elvis’ ‘Viva Las Vegas’. This collection of impressive writers carries on throughout the album and makes for some impressive music.

​’Freedom’ is an impressive song and arguably the best on the album. The song features a sound that Beyonce fans will be more familiar with, but it’s done so efficiently even non-fans can’t help but like it. It features Kendrick Lamar, a man who can’t seem to do any wrong at the moment, and his impressive form carries over into a song that will undoubtedly leave the listener more pumped up after listening. The song is backed by some impressive production before bursting into a choir-like chorus symbolising the desperation of Black America the song is ultimately about. ‘6-inch’ featuring the Weeknd (and co-written by Panda Bear no less) is an electronic song that is again, efficiently produced and feels more like a dance song than anything on the album. However the lyrically its fairly ironic, telling a tale of a stripper and what she goes through in this line of work, whilst also sounding like something that arguably could be played in a club environment. ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ featuring Jack White is also really good, with White providing the album with yet more brilliant diversity.

​This is not to say that every song is perfect. The music of ‘Love Drought’ and ‘Sorry’ isn’t really up to the standard of the rest of the album and ‘Forward’ sounds good, but James Blake feels too much like a cameo appearance and it leaves for more to be desired. Nevertheless, whether is the soft acoustic sound of ‘Sandcastles’ or the rock-song sounding ‘All Night’ there is something for everyone on this album. The range of music on the album is very impressive and Knowles has surrounded herself with some of the best writers around today and even co-wrote with some accredited Rock-and-Roll and Blues writers to create some truly fantastic sounds. The themes are appropriate and relevant and adds an important layer of depth. ‘Lemonade’ is definitely not perfect but it’s a very strong outing by Knowles. When you look at the creative team that went into making the album, it hardly comes as a surprise.

Beyoncé – Lemonade = 9/10

Matthew T. Johnston 

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