It’s been four years since Alicia Keys’ last album, Girl On Fire, was released, and now the songstress has taken on an authentic New York vibe in her latest release.
Bursting onto the music scene in 2001 at age 19, the New York native delivered soulful vocals in her first debut, Songs in A Minor. Since then, Keys has never failed to encompass the true meaning of R&B and soul in her music.
Here, which was released on Nov. 4, unravels Keys’ personal, truthful side, where she expresses her values of love and family, and her hopes for the world around her.
The singer, known for her signature classical music style, takes genuine grit to the piano in the second track “The Gospel,” rapping at a heightened speed with a church-like feel to convey a powerful message of reality seen in the lyrics.
“Whatever’s in the dark can always become light/If you ain’t in the battle, how you gon’ win the fight?”
She switches it up by adding R&B to the next track “Pawn It All” singing about giving up materialistic values and wanting to “start my life all over again.”
In a New York-inspired track titled “She Don’t Really Care_1 Luv” Keys paints a picture of the powerful women of New York City. This track later diverts into a solemn tune that encourages confidence in yourself and staying true to your own values.
“All along, I’ve ignored what I’ve always known/The chair I’ve been sitting on is a throne.”
The album is also filled with short interludes, where Keys is heard conversing amongst her collaborators in the studio, a move that’s very reminiscent of Lauryn Hill’s 1998 hip-hop album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
A couple soul-driven tracks on the album include “Blended Family (What You Do For Love),” featuring rapper A$AP Rocky, as well as “Work On It,” which details Keys’ marriage to her husband and producer Swizz Beatz, and her struggle to maintain their relationship after achieving such a high level of fame.
“I know some people try to say/ That the easiest way is to fake it/ We gonna make it if we try.”
While Keys appears without makeup on her album cover, the idea of true beauty and authenticity is reflected throughout the album, especially in the Caribbean-infused track “Girl Can’t Be Herself.” This flavourful song drives home the fact that women shouldn’t conform to the norms of beauty standards.
“In the morning from the minute that I wake up/ What if I don’t wanna put on all that makeup?”
After more heartfelt songs like “More Than We More” and “Where Do We Begin Now,” Here ends with an acoustic track titled “Holy War,” a song that revolves around the simple message of spreading love and respect to one another.
Keys may be striving away from her signature R&B vibe that’s found in her earlier albums, but Here proves to be an authentic, New York-styled masterpiece.
With powerful lyrics and gritty beats, Keys has proven that being honest and raw is a deeply rewarding experience.
Here is now available in stores and on iTunes.