Review by Tina
Alicia, the seventh studio album by Alicia Keys, is a melodic journey through the creative consciousness of a warm and emotionally engaging artist. Keys blends optimism into our common connections regarding love, life, social justice, and hardship. The genuine spirit and uplifting tone of her previous works are echoed on Alicia. We see the current world, its struggles, and its beauty through her eyes, heart, and mind. Hope is the common thread; her polished hypnotic vocal displays guide us through her personal journey in a troubled world. On Alicia. Keys takes the space to explore musical styles and experiment with sound creating plentiful results.
The album dishes out the polished vocals and piano driven ballads that we have come to expect, but we are also served a multitude of incorporated musical influences that enhance the flavor. These influences are heard in contemporary beats that are lyrically propelled in songs like “Wasted Energy” featuring Tanzanian artist Diamond Platnumz. The artists incorporate Caribbean beats, layered vocals, and melodic sounds that will keep this track on repeat. “Gramercy Park,” a song with country guitar riffs, follows Keys through a path of self-discovery, brought on by her own self-deception. The hook is relatable and timeless.
In addition to a variety of musical influences, Keys collaborates with some of the industry’s finest artists. Collaborative tracks include “Show Me Love,” a delicious duet featuring Miguel’s smoky vocals, “So Done,” a ballad featuring gifted vocalist Khalid, and “Jill Scott,” a song featuring the eponymous artist herself. “Underdog” is the album’s centerpiece and third single: a joint production with Ed Sheeran, and an inspirational anthem of hope, strength and change. In this song, Keys inspires us with her lyrics: “You will rise up, rise up.” This is a needed and welcomed message in a difficult time, and well worth a listen.
While Alicia does not break the mold of Keys’ previous work, it demonstrates a spirit of collaboration and inclusivity that music–and the world–are hungry for.