The decade of 2010 represented a major change in the lyric style of Alicia Keys: commercial productions gave way to a splendid maturation of her music, even more after the birth of her first child, Egypt, with the music producer Swizz Beatz. The artist, who has always taken her life experiences into account to bring exciting and engaging tracks to life, took motherhood with her fifth studio album, ‘Girl on Fire’, arguably one of the best known of these last years. Fixing its influences on R&B classicism and the return to circus experimentation and genre mergers, the work is consistent in its completeness – with the exception of some slips that do not even deserve our attention.
For the CD, Keys relies on a classic construction and an extension, “De Novo Adagio”, an introduction in which he plunges into his own world, sharing it with the fast, frantic and atmospheric keys of the piano. Shortly after, she joined Emeli Sandé, with whom she had already worked, and designed a beautiful ballad of empowerment and surpassing which took the title of “Brand New Me”. The acclaimed track deserves to go into the best iterations of singer and songwriter, primarily for the lyrical content that attacks names in the phonographic industry that use and abuse excessive selfishness and strengthen each other as it diminishes. the others – and, in a way, the progressions crept into the subtlety of pop are familiar enough to guide us for nearly four minutes.
“ Girl on Fire ” is a poignant autobiography in which Alicia, more than ever, reflects on the path she has traveled from her teenage years, with the dream of becoming an important name in music, until her rise to the perfect imperfections of life and human relationships. Romantic relationships are replaced by affection for others and socio-affection – a recurring theme at the time of the album’s release – protected by random verses and a regain of control that had been lost in “The Element of Freedom ”. In other words, the performer demonstrates that she is not afraid to dare, even if she faces negative reception along the way; vocal adventures are also undergoing a critical change, varying in unexpected contradictions or being limited to the one-dimensionality of the effervescent decades of the twentieth century.
Keys to the legendary album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ (Kendrick Lamar, 2015), Keys has allowed himself some interesting and original rearmings which have virtuously increased the solidity of jazz. The dissonances of drums and saxophone are dedicated to the echoing sinters in “When It’s All Over” – and guided by well-known DJ Jamie Smith. R&B, meanwhile, also undergoes altercations with the deliciously unscrupulous atmosphere of “Listen to Your Heart” (saving its origins of the 2000s), structured in short pills that continue in pre-chorus and synaesthetic chorus. “New Day” marks an explosive hip-hop transition that doesn’t hesitate to tour everywhere and to diminish the well-known powerful surrenders of the lead singer.
The artist demonstrates that she knows how to use comfort zones for her own benefit. The second half of the work is an ode to the powerful ballads to which she is accustomed, transgressing them with linear instrumentations that showcase the voice of one of the greatest singers of all time. The evocative “Not Even the King” is nostalgic and touching, touching the hearts of anyone who dares to listen – in addition to bringing the best of R&B to the surface. The same can be said of the solid and relatively circumscribed “That’s When I Knew”, brushed with guitar and guitar; the soft-rock and reggae infusion “Limitedless” (a probable tribute to Beyoncé and her early solo years); and “One Thing,” immediately notable for the narrative introspection overseen by none other than Frank Ocean.
Business inflections don’t cease to exist – explaining yet another back-to-back success for Keys in the market scenario (after all, the CD debuted at # 1 on the Billboard charts). We have the spectacular and sultry chemistry between her and Maxwell in the sensory avant-garde of “Fire We Make” (a very well thought-out title for the message you want to convey), bringing in references to neo-soul and the visionary. Smokey Robinson and their Motown-ish uniqueness of the 1970s; in a different and strangely cohesive spectrum is the idiosyncratic microcosm of the title song, one of the most defining songs of his career; Both the original version and the collaboration with Nicki Minaj explore elements of reaffirmation as mother, daughter, wife and artist – extending their legacy as an emancipatory hymn to this day.
Alicia Keys does what few artists can and reinvents herself once again with “Girl on Fire,” investing her efforts in unpredictable forays and without leaving aside her well-known aesthetic. Joining so many other incredible chapters of her career, the album is a celebration of life and her presence as a strong woman who cares about no one other than herself.
Rating per track:
De Novo Adagio (Intro) – 5/5 Brand New Me – 5/5 When It’s All Over – 4/5 Listen to Your Heart – 4/5 New Day – 3/5 Girl on Fire – 5/5 Fire We Make ( with Maxwell) – 5/5 tears always win – 4/5 not even the king – 4/5 is when I knew – 3.5 / 5 no limit – 4/5 One Thing – 4.5 / 5 101 – 4.5 / 5
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