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ALICIA KEYS: As I Am

 

Alicia Keys returns with her third studio attempt, As I Am. True to what an artist should be, Alicia has appeared to grow and mature with each project. Skipping the sophomore funk, Alicia has remained the darling of R&B sans all the drama and hoopla that surrounds most other entertainers. Sporting a new sexy look, could As I Am be yet another hit or perhaps a miss. 

 

Standouts include the current single, “Like You’ll Never See Me Again.” Reminiscent of Prince in his hay-day, Alicia delivers a soulful ballad. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Lesson Learned” highlights the heartache of love. In place of former hip-hop collaborators she has brought in blues maestro John Mayer, who complements her neatly on the wry, piano-heavy. What makes this track work is the sincerity of her performance and lyrics: 

 

You give him one more chance
just like the time before
but he already knows you'd give a hundred more
until that night in bed, you wake up in a sweat
Your racing to the door
Can't take it anymore

 

Other memorable tracks include the light, jazzy “Wreckless Love” and the upbeat “Teenage Love Affair.” You can’t help but reminisce about your own first love when hearing this song:

 

I'm gonna give you this letter
Of all the things I can't say
Want u to be my first my last my ending and beginning
I write your name in my book your last name my first I'm your Mrs

 

While her third studio album hit the number one mark in it's first week sales, not all the songs were gems. The first single, “No One” was unequivocally my least favorite single. In the vein of sounds similar to a John Lennon, the delivery was overly dramatic and annoying. Following suit were “Superwoman,” “Where Do We Go From Here” and “Prelude to a Kiss.” The songs came across as big productions with little substance. 

 

So am I saying this is a bad album? Let me say this, I didn’t care for it. I simply didn’t connect to the music. In most cases, I thought the production and performance were over the top failing to really touch a nerve. Instead, what we receive is a cliché of power anthems. Still, I have to acknowledge the creativity this album is laced with. Alicia took chances and brought to life a lot of the instrumentation and risks that the 80s were known for. 

 

Alicia has always been known as an “old soul,” and this project is the epitome of that. Could As I Am achieve the success of the seven-times-platinum, four Grammy-winning The Diary of Alicia Keys? I doubt it, but that’s not to be taken as the gospel. Music is about connecting. Perhaps Ms. Keys and I were not on the same page this time around.

 



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