Artist - Alicia Keys
Album – Girl On Fire
Label – Sony
Rating – 4/5
Alicia Keys returns to the album charts for the first time in three years with Girl On Fire, and while it’s hard to process that it’s been over a decade since she burst her way on to the musical scene with her stunning debut Songs In A Minor, it feels like she’s never been away.
Pop music may have moved on in the last few years, becoming more and more electronic by the day, but Keys still manages to capture so much emotion and heart in Girl On Fire, with it’s personal ‘girl and piano’ tracks feeling positively tiny in comparison to the big, sweeping ballads that a lot of vintage inspired singer/songwriters have become known for.
It's not a total throwback though, as even Keys experiments every now and again, with the early part of the album especially being wonderfully varied, going from a piano instrumental opening to a very unlikely Nicki Minaj combination in less than quarter of an hour.
While the rest of album isn’t as paradigm shifting as the album’s title track and the Dr Dre produced New Day, when the album boils down to just Alicia and her piano once again, it’s a tried and true combination that never fails to disappoint.
A few times though, the album comes away from this incredibly intimate style and ventures into a more traditional soul style, which in all honesty is when the album is at its weakest, with these tracks being a little bit of a snooze.
It doesn't happen often enough though to leave any sour taste in the mouth, as it's only a temporary respite from the New Yorker's gorgeous tones taking charge once again. It's when her voice is given the room to breathe, when you can hear her exhalations and the creak of the piano's pedal, that the album really ignites.
It’s not a classic, but fans of Alicia’s silky smooth tones will find it worth the wait and re-affirms why she has a legion of devotees worldwide.
Alicia Keys - Girl On Fire is out now.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith