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Criticism | Alicia Keys adopts a confessional, thoughtful tone in ‘the Diary of Alicia Keys’

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Following in the footsteps of “Songs in A Minor” would be a pretty complicated job – but not for Alicia Keys. After her resounding debut with one of the best albums of the 2000s, the singer and songwriter was ready to embark on a new adventure, this time adopting a more denominational tone than her previous forays, succeeding in soup-chicken explorations. . -For the soul. Declamations, once limited to romantic relationships, have become thoughtful verses about life and those who are gone – plus, once again, opening doors for the growth of neo-soul as a mainstream genre. . It was from there that one of his most famous albums was born, the memorable ‘The Diary of Alicia Keys’.

Taking the syntax of the title literally, Keys transformed a long phonographic journey, composed of fifteen songs and lasting nearly an hour, into a very personal and intimate journal, the fruit of his experiences of assertive growth in the middle trauma and unfortunate events. – including the untimely death of Aaliyah, who came to influence the composition of the CD’s most famous track, “If I Ain’t Got You”. Perhaps the only problem, for lack of another term, is the need to keep an already told narrative in vogue, creating a kind of continuity from the first job and, for this reason, forgetting to invest in original constructions. Make no mistake: the tracks emerge from the core of a performer worth hearing and, for that reason, are powerful from start to finish – but it is undeniable to feel a tremendous consonance with what we already had. presented two years ago.

The structure of the album itself bears similarities to “ A Minor ”: the first track demonstrates, once again, Keys’ skill with the piano, constructing a brief mystical introduction that mixes orchestral elements with the revitalization of R&B and hard-hitting beatdrops, giving the cards of the game that will be shown later. “Harlem’s Nocturne” makes an ode to the bohemian and mysterious life of one of New York’s most famous neighborhoods, contrasting and, at the same time, joining the more sensory presentation of “Piano & I”. Soon after, the artist decides to pay homage to the sensuality of girl groups of the 1990s and 2000s with “Karma,” whose categorical statement reminds us of acts like the underrated Mis-teeq.

There is a deep aesthetic sense of charm in the iterations Alicia is set to produce and write, taking control of virtually the entire creative process. Each element is exciting, dissonant in the best possible way, and engaging through a nostalgic and narcotic elegance that would come to influence several names – including Adele and Amy Winehouse with their mnemonic rescues from the top of soul and blues. The exciting interludes, “Feeling U, Feeling Me” and “Nobody Not Really”, cross the cinematic sphere and construct synaesthetic narratives that bring together the best of both worlds in a brief setting – the fruit of an unstoppable imagination that knows how to stay impatient world moved by speed.

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The singer knows how to take her time to carefully design new dimensions that place her in an impeccable and passionate timeless exclusivity. In fact, this deliberate anachronism (which shouldn’t be understood as old-fashioned, but rather beyond human timeline) drives several leads, especially when he decides to honor Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight with the mash-up. “Si I Was Your Woman / Walk On My”, taking up the art of the 60s and 70s with modern infusions of R&B and hip-hop (two genres that had already become a mark of his discography). The consecrations remain in the 90s “Slow Down” which, moved by the piano, Alicia creates a roller coaster of experimentalisms that follow unexpected paths and with a life of their own; “Samsonite Man” takes him even further, in an intrigue about a relationship that no longer works.

Keys makes some bold choices when it comes to terms – some breakthroughs that shy away from the lyricism we’re used to, which is why we can find some of the dropouts strange. But, even if she can sin in the stoning of some poignant edges, it involves us by the limitless power of her voice and by the fabulous circus acrobatics that she merges in each song; “You Don’t Know My Name” is the iteration that best illustrates the difficulty in singing the works of the performer, due to the complex progression and the duration of over six minutes (something normal, count given the declining epics of his previous work).

In “If I Ain’t Got You” and in “Diary”, songs that are systematically isolated in the first half of the album, Alicia Keys finds plenty of room to talk about her main theme, summarized in the flashy carp diem. “Some people live on a fortune; some, for fame ”, are the verses that clarify what to look for in order to be happy, something that escapes the exacerbated materialism of contemporary society and that isolates itself on an intangible and metaphysical level – friendships, love, spirituality , hope… No matter how you understand it, “The Diary of Alicia Keys” is a production that speaks to everyone and gives us answers even when we don’t think we need them.

Rating per track:

Harlem Nocturne – 5/5 Karma – 4/5 Heatburn – 4/5 If I Was Your Wife / Walk By – 4/5 You Don’t Know My Name – 4/5 If I Haven’t Got You – 5/5 Diary (feat. Tony! Toni! Toné !, Jermaine Paul) – 4,5 / 5 Dragon Days – 4/5 Wake Up – 4,5 / 5 So Simple (feay. Lellow) – 4,5 / 5 When You Aimez really someone – 5/5 Feeling U, Feeling Me – 5/5 Slow down – 5/5 Samsonite Man – 5/5 Person not really – 4.5 / 5

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