ALICIA - Alicia Keys' is hard to dislike
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Because of her powerful mezzo-soprano, it is hard to dislike anything that Alicia Keys has ever done. When the material is weak, her voice is always there to back it up. After 25 years in the game and 16 million records sold, Keys has also gathered a solid group of names to support her with songwriting- and production credits (1500 or Nothin’, Jonny Coffer, Ludwig Göransson, Mark Ronson, and Khalid are only a few of the names that appear on ALICIA). With all this in mind, her seventh album ALICIA - described by the artist as ”genreless” - would most definitely never turn out to be a bad album.
But while ALICIA is indeed miles from being ”bad”, it never exceeds the expectations. Musically, it departs from the experimental Here and approaches a moody, clean, and cohesive R&B-sound that in many ways reminds of the Alicia we are used to.
What’s missing, though, is the songs that once made us love her. The singles have all flopped on the charts and if you were hoping for something as monumental such as ”Fallin’”, ”Girl On Fire”, or ”No One”, Alicia will leave you disappointed. Of the album’s seven singles, the encouraging ”Underdog” is the most memorable, in which Alicia praises the ”young teachers”, ”student doctors”, and ”single mothers” over a joyous Caribbean-inspired rhythm. Sadly, it lacks the strength to become a real hymn to the ones Alicia is singing about. In the wake of police brutality and Black Lives Matter, ”Perfect Way to Die” is a far more powerful social comment, much thanks to a vocal performance that ranks with her all-time best.
Sadly, the rest of the record is pretty unspectacular in its professionalism, as Keys and her producers show off their undoubted skills through intimate love ballads (”So Done”), bass-heavy funk (”Time Machine”), and slight country-vibes (”Gramercy Park”). Apart from Tierra Whack’s unfitting feature on ”Me x 7” and the uninspired Miguel duet ”Show Me Love”, there is not much to truly dislike on this album, but apart from previously mentioned singles, there is not that much to love either. The album works better as a backing track for everyday activities than it does as an object for critical investigation, but if Alicia’s main targets now are shopping centres and to please as many different musical tastes as possible at once, I would consider it a waste of talent.
In conclusion, ALICIA remains a solid effort from one of the most powerful vocalists of the 21st century. It is the work from a singer who knows that she is too talented to do bad, but it is also the work from a singer with no motivation to challenge herself for more than one song at the time and who might have run out of banger material. I hope not.
Final rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
Check out more reviews by Douglas on his Instagram-account one_spalt_review