I have been wondering where my review is for Alicia Keys’ new album, As I Am.
Key’s Junior album dropped November 13th. According to E!Online her album sold 742,000 copies in the first week! She should have got in on the fun with Kanye to collectively whoop Fiddy ass easily beating his 691,000 copies in his first week (thanks mtv!). Her album was preceded by her hit single, “No One,” which was received well, extremely well. In my own experience, I was sent two or three emails with links to her “No One” video from various folks in my network. I don’t usually receive links to the same artist for the same song from different people who don’t know each other. Her wide and varying appeal aside, this was a good song, particularly because it lives as a good sing along soul song, kinda like a lot of Al Green songs. Particularly outstanding in this album are her range expanding vocals reminiscent of some of the best of Aretha’s tunes coupled with the deep pain of Nina Simone or the Queen B. Mary J. Blige. The combination’s success lies in her simple yet unique lyrics to speak about our favourite universal themes of love and heartbreak. The album is refreshingly good, even the intro is good. No one listens to the intro or interlude of an album, save Kanye West’s interludes which are pretty funny. Shock aside, sometimes an artist you champion and care about early on before they prove themselves comes out with an album that blows. And you can’t help feeling disappointed on a personal level – almost like they exposed you for being a quack with a terrible music sensibility. No such anxiety regarding Alicia Key’s album. Her album is confident which instills confidence in the listener. She has come into her own, fully matured as a musical artist.
A favourite of mine from the album is “Lesson Learned” with background vocals by John Mayer. I love the imagery the song stimulates. My favourite line from the song is “Falling down ain’t falling down if you don’t cry when you hit the floor.” That was an incredible powerful experience for me the first time I heard that song. It was so powerful tears were marching down my face. It is not a particularly happy song with its coating of heartbreak but between the cracks of melancholy there is an uplifting tone to get you up and out of your sorrow.
For song recommendations, the real winners on the album are “Go Ahead,” “Superwoman,” “Like You’ll Never See Me Again,” and “Sure Looks Good to Me.” The loser is “Teenage Love Affair.” It is not a good song. It is annoying . . . like a teenager. So in that respect, Keys is successful.
Prediction: Keys is going to be one of those throwback classics like TLC that will forever hold a special place in your heart long after she and her piano are disbanded. And to think all of this was accomplished due to her classical training. She shows what can be done with a piano – an inspiration to aspiring young pianists everywhere, no doubt.
Hey kids, you won’t be stuck playing Rachmaninoff forever.