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Go to the Alicia Keys website  Alicia Keys - Songs In A Minor [J Records - 2001]

Buy this CD now!
Alicia Keys is a fairly new name in the R&B scene, yet this young talent has had a lot of success. Her first single from the album "Fallin'" topped charts all over the world and her debut album "Songs In A Minor" already gained a triple platinum status in the U.S. Time to take a closer look at her, and the album too...

Alicia Keys is more than just a good looking face to give the music identity. Alicia Keys is a real musician: writing, performing and producing the tracks on her debut album. The 21-year-old grew up with music at an early age, learning to play piano at age 5. She developed her voice at the Professional Performance Arts School in Manhattan, started writing on her album at age 14, finishing high school at 16 due to outstanding grades, and signed to Arista Records at 18 years old. She followed Clive Davis to his newly founded J Records in 1999, releasing the album "Songs In A Minor" barely two years later.

Variety is the key on this album. Alicia combines a lot of different vocal styles, ranging from jazzy acrobatics to a 1930-40's approach, but always keeping a rich volume and a sensuous flow. The modern duets with other artists to give the album more diversity are certainly not forgotten, taking "Jane Doe" (with Kandi) and "Mr. Man" (with Jimmy Cozier) as examples. But the vocals are not the only strong point on the release. Relaxing, almost trip hop alike beats are alternated by beautiful ballads and more funky Latin influenced tracks. The main feeling here remains somewhat jazz music related though. Except for the piano, strings are used quite often in the music, producing nice background melodies, and a somewhat mellow feel. Guitar, bass, tambourine and woodwind instruments are used only sporadically, but what is remarkable is that all the instruments are actually real, and sound real too; no programmed things here. The result is a very organic and natural sound, quite different from what we normally hear in R&B.

Lyrical wise, Alicia Keys doesn't write to usual R&B love songs either. Of course "love" is the main concept here, but she takes a different approach, describing how a man should treat a woman varied by more playful lyrics like "Butterflies" (where she sings about receiving butterflies in company of the man she loves) and "Caged Bird" (about individuals who feel imprisoned, using a bird as metaphor).

Alicia Keys brings a breath of fresh air into the R&B scene. "Songs In A Minor" is a beautiful album which combines the modern R&B feeling with more jazzy vocal styles from long ago. It should certainly appeal to R&B fans, but I believe people who normally don't lend an ear to this kind of music or even everything reaching national charts could like this too.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Justin Faase
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