After much anticipation, the singer-songwriter “Alicia Keys” makes a comeback with her seventh and most personal album yet, ALICIA. The 15-track set, which was delayed from March due to COVID, features collaborations with Miguel, Khalid, Tierra Whack, Sampha, and Diamond Platnumz.
Jill Scott guests on the aptly-titled “Jill Scott,” while Snoh Aalegra lends her soulful stylings to “You Save Me.” Other contributors include Swizz Beatz, The-Dream, and Ed Sheeran, who penned “Underdog.”
“Truth without love is just a lie,” Alicia Keys proclaims on the opening track of her seventh album, ALICIA. It sounds like equal parts revelation and call to accountability, as what follows brims with ample amounts of both. Songs like “Authors of Forever” and the sing-along-ready “Underdog” reflect the feel-good ethos that has come to mark Alicia Keys, the everywoman pop star. But elsewhere, on songs like “3 Hour Drive” (an alluring duet which features vocals from Sampha), the piano-driven “You Save Me” and the soaring “Perfect Way to Die”, there are glimpses of the magic that comes with just her voice and a bare-bones background. The vulnerability of both truth and love seeps out, whether in confessional lyrics or in the labour of creating and stretching.
The album is an exercise in collaboration and trust, which she had, to this point in her career, largely subsisted without; its credited and uncredited personnel list is a who’s who of music, from The-Dream and Swizz Beatz to Ed Sheeran (“Underdog”) and Tierra Whack (“Me x 7”). The result is a collection that feels at once personal and open in its scope. “There’s something so crazy about what I bring and then what you bring,” she tells Apple Music. “It’s going to be completely different, and there’s something about the merging of energy that’s fascinating to me. Now I feel like that’s another alchemy that’s created that I love the process of—that process of being open and receiving what’s meant to come from each person and creating something out of nothing is always incredible.” It’s fitting, then, that, sonically, ALICIA may be her most amorphous release. It floats through the lands of stripped singer-songwriter balladry, anthemic pop and R&B with the singer’s dexterous voice to anchor it. Among the freeing qualities of such genre-fluidness, she also arrives at her truest form. “I feel like I have, for the first time,” she says, “been most fully myself now.”
Stream “ALICIA” Album below;