Alicia Keys | Here (RCA)

Good job, Alicia, but I still miss the old you.

alicia

I haven’t fully listened to an Alicia Keys album since As I Am. No rhyme or reason there: I just didn’t really connect with anything after that. But after her brief performance during the 2016 MTV Music Awards, I was intrigued to listen to her next project.

Here proves to be an ode to loving the raw and imperfect journey of your true self. As we know, Keys set the internet ablaze with her no makeup campaign earlier this year. And this album continues to promote women loving themselves unconditionally, black love, and awe-striking growth as discussed in the “Cocoa Brown (Cross & Pic Interlude),” “Girl Can’t Be Herself,” “Elaine Brown (Interlude),” and “Elevate (Interlude).

One song that really stuck out to me was “Holy War.” Not only is it a powerful showcase of Keys’ vocals, it is an empowering ballad about togetherness and honest realities: “Yeah, we can hate each other and fear each other,” Keys belts. “We can build these walls between each other/ Baby, blow by blow and brick by brick/ Keep yourself locked in, yourself locked/ Maybe we should love somebody/ Maybe we could care a little more/ Maybe we should love somebody instead of polishing the bombs of holy war.”

The lyrics of this song should be celebrated as this year’s “What’s Going On.” The past few years, and especially the last few months, show some of the most contentious times with the divisiveness of people and police and between “race” relations; we need a tune that addresses this and suggests a solution.

Here’s second half features “Illusion of Bliss” and “More Than We Know,” and they serve as the saving grace for Keys’ sixth studio album. Most of it bores me, but songs like those and “Work on It” really pull me back into it. The vocal production mixed with the music production just work on these songs and I feel inspired. Good job, Alicia, but I still miss the old you. C- | Ashley White

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