The baddest female in music with a pen has returned. Dispute it if you must. Love her or hate her, there’s no denying Alicia Keys’ uncanny ability for writing a great song. She immediately captured the hearts of millions with her debut single, “Fallin”. She hasn’t looked back since, only reaching greater heights. Diary of Alicia Keys is my favorite body of work from her. Her latest album, Here, may give it a run for its money though.
Alicia Keys opens the nearly 45 minute Here with a rousing poem entitled “The Beginning”. However, “The Gospel” really kicks off the album with an impressive rap sung flow. This is new territory that suits her well. The production is gritty too, which makes it even more authentic. She takes a more spiritual approach to this album. This is evident on the edgy declaration “Pawn It All”, the soul stirring “Illusion of Bliss” and the acoustic, thought provoking “Holy War”.
Make up isn’t all she shed for the sake of Here. She’s noticeably more socially conscious (check out “Kill Your Mama”). Also, she seems less concerned with crafting chart topping hits. Ironically, I think fans will resonate and purchase/stream this album by the droves. Her signature raspy growls take a back seat to a Hip Hop influenced urgency. Here is void of any features, except on the upbeat, autobiographical tale, “Blended Family”.
There aren’t any radio friendly moments here. However, the self-esteem boosting “Girl Can’t Be Herself” and the Motown soul reminiscent “Work On It” are the most likely candidates. However, Alicia Keys’ aim is clearly not bubblegum pop. She has carefully crafted an experience of an album, by following her own rules. My only complaint is the omission of the stellar singles “Hallelujah” and “In Common”. She’s here and relevant like never before.