Ever since Beyoncé premiered her new album Lemonade on Saturday evening, people have been diving in with their theories on who she is singing about. Is it her husband, Jay Z? Her father, Matthew Knowles? Perhaps an amalgam of both? All this sleuthing is fun and makes for good gossip fodder, but who Lemonade is about isn’t as important as what the album is about.
In the very first sentence of the first song, “Pray You Catch Me,” Beyoncé sings about tasting dishonesty and that is the trigger warning not because of the words alone but the way she sings them. The delivery is technically confident but emotionally shaky, which let me know the woman has been through something (or at the very least seen things happen to people around her), and she’s ready to talk about it.
I don’t need art to speak to me on a personal level to enjoy it, but the art I have always dug the most has been the work that looks or sounds the most familiar. In Lemonade I hear a woman singing about a man who sounds a lot like the man I used to be, and the man I sometimes am afraid I can become again.