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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Alicia Keys

MUSIC REVIEWS

Alicia Keys-The Diary of Alicia Keys (J Records)

A couple of years ago, a young, black female armed with nothing but her piano exploded onto a music world full of dancing blondes and perfectly in synch boys.  Slicing through the stale mold of pop music, Alicia Keys found her home on Clive Davis’ J Records and released her monster smash debut album Songs in A Minor.  The follow-up is a surprising left turn.  It seems to work at times, but at other moments falters. 

The Diary of Alicia Keys is a long, beat-driven set that seems to go overboard in many ways.  Conceding to some of today’s top beat makers, Keys sacrifices her creativity for universal pop appeal.  Within the first four tracks, Keys tickles the ivories only once.  It’s not until the fifth song that the sultry piano is present, on the lead single “You Don’t Know My Name.”  Produced by the Kanye West (Jay-Z, Talib Kweli), this track is steadily making its way up the charts and radio station play lists. 

The album is not a total loss, because Keys is truly talented. Her voice has matured and is huskier as a result. In the stirring, soulful “If I Ain’t Got You,” Keys cries out for the man she has long loved.  Lamenting on how her life is not complete without this passion, the songstress makes this over-used topic sound fresh. The song “Diary, featuring temporarily reunited soul group Tony! Toni! Toné!, oozes sincerity as Keys reassures her man that all secrets will be kept between their two hearts.  The production is smooth, yet has a melodic groove that will certainly make you want to hear the song again and again. 

This album really transforms from average to worthwhile with its live production, especially on the track “Nobody Not Really.”  Accompanied by the, jazzy, bass-driven backdrop, this song leaves the impression that you are in a blue, smoky nightclub listening to a budding singer for the first time. The few sophomore slips here are somewhat evident, but don’t break the back of Key’s second serving. By the end of the album, it is evident that Keys is no longer just a talented newcomer, but a mature artist who is here to stay.  (12/03)

Abraham Kuranga

Copyright © 2003 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 10, 2003.

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Copyright © 2003 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 10, 2003.