Release Date: 06.05.01
Record label: J Records
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
by: nick evans
2001's most shocking surprise is back for another album. In that year, Alicia had one of the biggest pop hits of the year, went quadruple platinum with Songs in A Minor, and won 5 Grammies. Her sophistication and music well beyond her years struck a chord with countless demographics, and became soul music's savior.
Now, she's back with the sophomore album. It's definitely not the usual "sophomore jinx," but it's a bit more of the same. It's deeply personal, and more soulful than ever, but just seems to stay a little too much in her comfort zone to truly be a great album. Half of the songs trudge into all too familiar territory, making you question yourself "haven't I heard this somewhere before?" "If I Ain't Got You" sounds like it could have come from any R&B crooner in history; and "When You Love Someone" has the same 6/8 time and arpeggios that "Fallin'" does.
But first single off the album, "You Don't Know My Name", is brilliant. Kanye West does something that not even the Neptunes could have done, and looked back to the soul of the 60's for a very natural feeling beat. A lot of artists as of recent credit legendary soul singers like Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle for their influence, but Keys seems to be the only one truly emulating them. She even covers "If I Was Your Woman" and "Walk On By", and gives them a great new twist. She does further stray away from her peers and further develop her sound that is all her own. "Dragon Days" is a representative of this. No other artist today would be making a song like this; yet the shortcomings of the lyrics ("Like a desert needs water, I need you a lot")
Alicia manages to capture the general essence and feel of Songs in A Minor, which turns out to be the albums strongest point. Its atmosphere feels like warmth on a bitterly cold day, but overall, a lot of the songs sound more filler than anything. But she still is proving to be one of the most promising artists in music today. 17-Dec-2003 7:02 PM