Alicia Keys’s Alicia is her best album since 2001’s Songs in A Minor. It contains the sort of gorgeous duets, delicate songwriting and piano mastery that fans have always known she possesses, even if previous albums didn’t fully realise her skill. The mic-dropping material begins with Truth with Love, in which she ambiguously croons: “Such a nuisance tryna kill all the loose ends / Tell me how the truth became so elusive / Them illusions from the fusion, the intrusion / Contusion, you got me confused, man.”
The funkadelic-inspired Time Machine and the beautifully optimistic Authors of Forever are two tunes that’ll make listeners think and dissect, with ideas applicable to their own lives. Underdog is a touching tribute to some of society’s underappreciated yet hardest workers, and has grown in stature since its January release. The hook “So I sing a song for the hustlers trading at the bus stop / Single mothers waiting on a cheque to come / Young teachers, student doctors / Sons on the front line knowing they don’t get to run” is an evergreen message – but it hits differently in the Covid-19 era.
If streaming numbers are anything to go by, people tend to press play first on collaborative tracks when they load up new albums. Such curiosity is rewarded in Alicia, as it features a string of amazing features. There’s Three-Hour Drive, a touching collab with Mercury Prize-winner Sampha, and Show Me Love, a duet with R&B star Miguel. Rapper Tierra Whack augments the sonically different Me x 7, Jill Scott vibes with Keys in a relaxed soundscape, and Keys is beautifully supported by Swedish artist Snoh Aalegra for the heartfelt You Save Me.
Gramercy Park is one of the most chilled songs on a calm record, at least from a melodic perspective. Lyrically, though, it’s mournful, chronicling a failed relationship in which she loses her identity to fulfil someone’s idea of a lover. But nothing prepares the listener for the blunt emotional impact of Perfect Way to Die, a powerful piano-driven number dedicated to the black lives lost to police brutality.
The bridge goes, “Another dream lost / Another king and queen lost / Another broken promise they refuse to make right / Oh, another night to live in fear / Oh, another night that you’re not here / Another reason to get out there and fight.” A message for the world, it’s one of the most powerful songs penned by anyone this year.
Alicia is released on 18th September 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Alicia’ Keys’ website here.
Watch the video for the single So Done here: