Motivated by the social turmoil and political upheaval of 2016 America, Alicia Keys’ latest album, Here, is an attempt, according to the accompanying press release, to “open up a dialogue around sensitive issues that aren’t often spoken about”; “a response to the world we live in today”.
Her first record in four years, Here packs eighteen songs into just over fifty minutes of playing time and certainly feels like an attempt to open up a dialogue surrounding our increasingly reactionary and segregated world. The album begins promisingly with the orchestral sweep and emotive build of opener ‘Gospel’ as Keys’ raw vocal delivery and anthemic chorus echoes Common’s early work. The Adele and Emeli Sandé co-written ‘Kill Your Mama’ is Keys’ folk hero moment, her voice unadorned over a strumming acoustic guitar, while the gospel organ swells of ‘Illusion of Bliss’ are a welcome evocation of soul music’s emotional power. The record reaches maximum appeal in the single ‘Blended Family’, which is a return to the boom-bap production and infectious melodies that have served Keys so well during the course of her last five albums.
Read the rest of the review in Clash Magazine.
[This piece was originally published in Clash Magazine on 16/11/16]