Grammy Award Winning singer Alica Keys has come a long way from sitting behind a piano, with braids and beads singing about â€œFalling.â€ Â She is now an accomplished singer/songwriter, wife and first time mother with Grammyâ€™s, number one songs, and sold out shows under her belt. Â She is also on a new label, RCA, since J Records is now defunct. Â The evolution that Keys has gone through is documented on her latest effort, Girl on Fire.
For the album, which was recorded shortly after her wedding to producer Swizz Beatz, and the birth of her son, Egypt, Keys enlists help from a great roster: Emeli Sande, Stacy Barthe, Babyface, Swizz Beatz (baby daddy), Dr. Dre, Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, and etc. Â The album also includes collaborations from singer Maxwell, and Nicki Minaj. Â Â The end result, is a beautiful album full of love, passion and excitement with where she is in life currently. Â Thereâ€™s also those â€œfirst time momâ€ moments that singers turn to incorporating vocals from their children, example: Whitney Houstonâ€™s â€œMy Love is Your Love.â€
The album opens with â€œBrand New Meâ€ which was co-written with singer Emeli Sande. A song full of confidence, and independence as Keys sings essentially, as the title alludes to, not being the same girl she was before. Singer Stacy Barthe lends her hand to writing one of the most beautiful songs on the album, â€œWhen Itâ€™s Over.â€ The track features great production from Keys that would sound amazing live. Â The song has a â€œMy Love Is Your Love,â€ vibe ironically, and speaks to if her world were to end, at least she had her one true love. Â Keys sings, â€œWhen they lay me down, put my soul to rest, when they ask me how I spent my life, at least I got to love you. When itâ€™s all over, when itâ€™s all said and down, at least I got to love you.â€ The track ends with an adorable outro from her son Egypt.
The production on â€œListen To Your Heart,â€ laid out by Keys puts you in the mindset of Drakeâ€™s So Far Gone, Mixtape produced by 40. Â Â The track speaks to having to listen to your heart unlike the clichÃ© tells you to do with doing what your head tells you to do. â€œNew Day,â€ which features production from Swizz Beatz and Dr. Dre, is a banger. Â The song, which speaks to celebrating life and not letting the negative things you occur, break you down. Â â€œThereâ€™s no limitation no, fill up your life, let me see your hands up one time. Â I celebrate mine, cause I ainâ€™t gonna get no more.â€ Â The song, towards the end has a crazy beat breakdown – with heavy drums. Overall, the track evokes a great party like vibe with a positive message.
For â€œFire We Make,â€ Keys recruits crooner and sex symbol, Maxwell, for one of the sexiest songs in her whole discography. Â The Pop & Oak produced track, will for sure be a baby-maker, its sexy, sensual, and passionate. Â Definitely, evokes some type of fire for the listeners, not to mention the horns in the bridge only add to the overall sexiness of the song. Â â€œOne Thingâ€ has an old soul, like vibe, and beautiful lyrics definitely adding to the high points of the album.
For all the good that comes with the album, there are definitely downsides, which first become prevalent with the title track, which preceded the album. Â The song, â€œGirl on Fire,â€ was charted at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, and essentially was created for empowerment to be a metaphor for letting your light shine. Â â€œLooks like a girl, but sheâ€™s a flame/ So bright she can burn your eyes.â€ However, what comes across is a forced effort that borders the line of annoyance and trying to hard. Â The forcing only was further deepened with an added verse from Nicki Minaj for the â€œInfernoâ€ remix, as well as adding Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas for her performance on MTVâ€™s Video Music Awards. Â â€œNot Even a Kingâ€ has great lyrics, but Keysâ€™ voice sounds whiny.
With this album, Keys, creates an album that clearly shows fans what sheâ€™s been doing since releasing her 2009 effort, Element of Freedom. Â As a whole, the writing on the album is great — almost makes you forget that Alicia Keys isnâ€™t the best singer around. Â A lot of the lyrics on the album, especially â€œThatâ€™s When I Knewâ€ speak to the way I want to feel about someone one day.
Final Rating: 3.5 / 5
Listen to the Stream Below, and Pre-Order the album here. The album comes out tomorrow.