November 16, 2007

Alicia Keys: Hard not to love her as she is

Alicia Keys' As I Am

Most female artists release albums that reflect a general style for that chunk of their life to which it's dedicated: mad love-soaked ballad-ing, soul-searching lyrics mixed with self re-empowerment, or a brush up with a new-found music era that's been done before. But Alicia doesn't need some overblown inspiration, rather a few pages from her diary-today she is lonely, tomorrow she is repressed and has to "tell you something", and on the 15th she's realized she's gathered enough strength to be Superwoman.

She opens the CD isolating a moment for her famous piano skills to shine, then proceeds into her heartful, heavily soulful third studio album. The first 2 songs I immediately couldn't stop listening to were "wreckless love" and "where do we go". Wreckless love is the most refreshing-her sometimes raspy voice has a clear pitch all the way through. In this song, I feel as if she's written off all the other emotions she's poured into the album and admitted us into a free-wheeling love affair. Where do we go starts off like an old fuzzy jazz record, gathers some swing and breaks out into a gospel song complete with organs and drums. Industrial, harmonic, full of movement-"all i can do is follow the tracks of my tears," she wails. "Pain" is belted out with such a bittersweet melody, it's more reminiscent of a helpless cry for freedom. Collaborations with Jamie Foxx and John Mayer don't add anything at all. No one, though I swear I am sick of it, is just too hard to skip once that piano strikes. One of my favorite lyrics, from Sure looks good to me: ...and me and myself we're turning around, we're getting old.

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