‘Here’ it is; David busts out his review of the new Alicia Keys album for your Monday morning’s reading pleasure.
Over the 15 years, Alicia Keys has become a veteran performer and artist; she has broad appeal and a penchant for catchy hooks and empowering anthems.
In the past couple of years, she has become a massive advocate around keeping it real. She’s made a bit of a stir by turning up to appearances and red carpet events au naturel – makeupless. She is stunning as her true self and this new found strength has been brought to life on her new album ‘Here’.
Keys’ sixth studio album is more gritty and raw, but it feels authentically Alicia. I love it when an artist has the ability to express themselves in a fairly pure way. It comes out in her voice in the delivery of several tracks. That being said, I feel like in order to be true to herself, she’s sacrificed some of those radio friendly anthems.
Lead single ‘In Common’ is amongst the best on offer here. Appearing live on ‘The Graham Norton Show’ in the lead up to the album’s release, she delivered a flawless performance. Add to the fact Tiësto created a stunning remix… it was a great launchpad for the album.
Second single ‘Blended Family’ is also quite a special track. With a message relating to her hubby’s previous relationship/family, it’s so authentic and oozes love and adoration. It’s a great modern love song of a different kind.
I also have some serious respect for Alicia on ‘Girl Can’t Be Herself’ as she preaches about the unrealistic expectations of the modern woman. I don’t have a first hand understanding of what it’s like, but I appreciate everything she has to say. It’s a powerful message to share and I love that she’s taken the opportunity to do so.
Where ‘Here’ falls flat for me is the entire first half of the album. As much as I’d love for Alicia and her band to come around for a jam session, it’s not how I want to spend my time listening to music on a regular basis. A lot of the tracks retain that raw feel but just don’t connect with the listener. Some of the songs remind me of Lauryn Hill’s second album (the MTV Unplugged album) with the messages being almost too political.
‘Illusion Of Bliss’ is almost unlistenable. Alicia sounds so pained that it’s actually uncomfortable to listen to. I have major respect for her putting her heart out there, but this track, and a few others, ought to have remained on the shelf. They are artistic explorations best used as a part of the creative process.
Alicia Keys is an iconic performer and extraordinarily talented musician. ‘Here’ seemingly releases a lot of tension and feels like she is feeling more free than ever.
VERDICT : 3/5.
MUST LISTEN : Blended Family, In Common, Girl Can’t Be Herself, More Than We Know.