Review: Cranes in the Sky

By Ines Makuza October 7, 2016
Album: A Seat at the Table
Artist: Solange Knowles

‘Well it’s like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don’t wanna feel those metal clouds’

In moments of pain and sadness, we always try to find ways to cope, ways to help get ourselves through what we don’t always feel like dealing with. Solange Knowles croons of such times in the peacefully funky and upbeat tune of “Cranes in the Sky” Never having listened to Solange Knowles before, I didn’t know what to expect when I acquired her recently-released album “A Seat at the Table”, except that she had a funky and soulful musical side.

In general, the entire album expresses the pain felt towards the inhumane experiences of black people in America, specifically the experiences of black women. But you wouldn’t be able to tell so with this particular tune; I almost assumed it was about getting over a lost love. When in fact it’s more in touch with dealing with what we witness daily in the media and Solange gave her unique voice to the pain that she’s not alone in feeling.

“Cranes in the Sky” had, according to Genius.com, been 8 years in the making, which Solange successfully completed with the accompaniment of drums, strings, and bass. She released the music video soon after the album, shot in more than 4 locations, and various black women in bold fashion choices, and dancing in mellow and contemporary moves and embracing each other.

‘I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair’

In this first verse and the second one, Solange sings of her ways of coping by drinking and pretending her problems don’t exist, but recklessly. She further attempts to alleviate the pain through materialistic items, expecting her mental problems to disappear.

‘I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress would make it better’

By the third verse, common pleasures are used as a distraction. The first three verses are almost like vices and virtues put to use for mere aids in unspoken problems.

‘I slept it away
I sexed it away’

The repetitive ‘Away’ in the refrain joined by backup singers is representative of an attempt to push all negative emotions away and guide oneself into better mental and spiritual space. My favourite part is the chorus where her voice beautifully and uniquely elevates with the pain she’s trying to run away from, referring to cranes as the almost perpetual ugliness in life.

‘Well it’s like cranes in the sky
Sometimes I don’t wanna feel those metal clouds’

The last two verses, before the repeated refrain and chorus to the songs end, are what denounce the notion that this song is about race and almost appear to be about love and/or dealing with depression. Nobody likes to admit to being in pain, whether mentally or due to relationships, so we hide it in masks of drinks, sex, work etc.

‘I tried to let go my lover
Thought if I was alone then maybe I could recover’

She refers to running away and going through various states to find herself again. In terms of race, however, it most likely refers to the constant pain and anger felt towards the growing race issues which separate her from her loved ones not being able to understand why she feels this way.

I think I was particular to this song because of its various interpretations it gave away. As an ode to blackness in these times, Solange expressed what we do when in pain that damages our mental health, whether a heartbreak, or witnessing mistreatment of others. She realistically is open about what most are never able to talk about.



Ines Makuza
Ines is majoring in mass communication. She's a great singer, loves dancing, reading, writing and spending time with her friends.

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