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Alicia Keys|KEYS

KEYS

Alicia Keys

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Going by title and release proximity -- never before had Alicia Keys released studio albums in consecutive years -- Keys seems set up to be pitched as a sequel to Alicia. Conversely, it's another ball of wax. Make that conjoined balls of wax. Disc one is essentially a standard Alicia Keys LP, while the second disc is an album of remixes plus two more new songs. It starts like a mixtape with Keys' anticipatory piano trailed by the stern voice of Pusha T and an equally menacing beat recycling the one from Beanie Sigel's "The Truth" (with that charged Graham Nash organ). Keys testifies her faith and gives thanks, and through the rest of the first set sings to a lover in varying states of their relationship, often with words of devotion and pleas to make it through the not-so-good times. The songs are more likely to evoke a feeling than have a clear meaning; to wit, "Somebody never told me there's a last time for everything/Even a landslide is an opening/Turning metal into gold" requires some interpretive skill to comprehend what Keys is putting across. The originals peak with "Best of Me," a crisp and sighing slow jam with a writing assist from Raphael Saadiq and a hint of Sade's "Cherish the Day." Two of Keys' most moving vocal performances are contained in "Is It Insane," an anguished torch song done acoustic jazz-trio style, and "Love When You Call My Name," a levitating ballad out of time. Keys produced most of the first disc on her own, and for the second disc teams almost exclusively with Mike WiLL Made-It and associates for the alternate versions. The makeovers range from subtle to fairly extreme. "Nat King Cole" is turned into hip-hop soul with an obvious debt to early Portishead (and an insignificant verse from Lil Wayne). The "Skydive" remodel, which likewise evokes the mid-'90s, is much craftier, retaining some of the bass from Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat" but smoothing it out to be in a class with Mary J. Blige's "Mary Jane (All Night Long)" or Groove Theory's "Tell Me." The latter half's new songs are two of the album's higher-profile collaborations: a tentative-sounding missed opportunity with Khalid and Lucky Daye, and an intoxicated duet with Swae Lee where Tyrone Davis' coasting 1979 hit "In the Mood" does most of the work.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo

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KEYS

Alicia Keys

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1
Plentiful (Originals)
00:03:08

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Harold Lilly, Composer, Lyricist - Dwight Grant, Composer, Lyricist - Kasseem Dean, Composer, Lyricist - Kanye West, Composer, Lyricist - Graham nash, Composer, Lyricist - Ken Lewis, Piano, Strings, Bass - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Pusha T, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Nathaniel Alford, Engineer, Recording Engineer - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Jonathan Garcia, Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Dom Rivinius, Drums, Organ - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer - Alicia Keys feat. Pusha T, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

2
Skydive (Originals)
00:03:04

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Programmer, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Kenton Nix, Composer, Lyricist - Ken Lewis, Drum Machine - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, Bass, Background Vocal - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Aaron Jahnke, Assistant Engineer - Dom Rivinius, Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

3
Best Of Me (Originals)
00:03:59

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hale, Composer, Lyricist - Helen Adu, Composer, Lyricist - Ken Lewis, Guitar - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Keyboards, Piano - Sam Morton, Assistant Producer - Stuart Matthewman, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Aaron Jahnke, Assistant Engineer - Dom Rivinius, Drums

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

4
Dead End Road (Originals)
00:03:32

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dean McIntosh, Composer, Lyricist - MANNY MARROQUIN, Mixing Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Fred Ball, Producer, Guitar, Organ, Piano, Programmer, Bass - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Fredrik Ball, Composer, Lyricist - Zach Pereyra, Assistant Engineer - Anthony Vilchis, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

5
Is It Insane (Originals)
00:06:21

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - STEVE JORDAN, Drums - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - George Massenburg, Mixing Engineer - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

6
Billions (Originals) Explicit
00:03:19

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Mixing Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - AraabMuzik, Producer, Programmer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Abraham Orellana, Composer, Lyricist - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

7
Love When You Call My Name (Originals)
00:03:37

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Other, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, Piano, Other, Background Vocal - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

8
Only You (Originals)
00:03:15

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Programmer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Steve Wolf, Drums - Adam Blackstone, Bass - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, Piano, Background Vocal - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Mixing Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
Daffodils (Originals)
00:04:33

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Other, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Natalie Hemby, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, Background Vocal - Steve Wolf, Drums - Adam Blackstone, Bass - Eric Eylands, Assistant Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

10
Old Memories (Originals)
00:02:59

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Programmer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Natalie Hemby, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, Background Vocal - Steve Wolf, Drums - Adam Blackstone, Bass - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Sam Morton, Assistant Engineer - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Tim Stewart, Electric Guitar - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

11
Nat King Cole (Originals)
00:03:39

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Other, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Natalie Hemby, Composer, Lyricist - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Bill Withers, Composer, Lyricist - Ken Lewis, Guitar, Horn, Bass - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Davide Rossi, Strings - Tyrone Johnson, Composer, Lyricist - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Programmer - Marquell Middlebrooks, Composer, Lyricist - Gabriel Vivas, Bass - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Marzeratti, Programmer - Rich Evatt, Assistant Engineer - Tyrone "Hookah" Johnson, Guitar - Don Rivinius, Drums - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

12
Paper Flowers (Originals)
00:03:24

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Brandi Carlile, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Sam Morton, Assistant Engineer - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer - Alicia Keys feat. Brandi Carlile, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

13
Like Water (Originals)
00:03:57

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Batson, Composer, Lyricist, Piano - Eric Eylands, Assistant Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Sia Furler, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Mixing Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

14
KEYS
00:01:25

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

DISC 2

1
Only You (Unlocked)
00:03:11

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Steve Wolf, Drums - Adam Blackstone, Bass - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, Piano, Background Vocal - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Asheton Hogan, Composer, Lyricist - Pierre Ramon Slaughter, Composer, Lyricist - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Drum Machine - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Pluss, Co-Producer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Producer - P-Nazty, Co-Producer, Drum Machine

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

2
Skydive (Unlocked)
00:03:03

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Kenton Nix, Composer, Lyricist - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Ken Lewis, Drums - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, Bass, Background Vocal - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Asheton Hogan, Composer, Lyricist - Austin Paul, Saxophone - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Programmer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Pluss, Co-Producer, Programmer - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jahnke, Assistant Engineer - Dom Rivinius, Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

3
Best Of Me (Unlocked)
00:03:43

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Hale, Composer, Lyricist - Helen Adu, Composer, Lyricist - Barry White, Composer, Lyricist - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Ken Lewis, Guitar - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Keyboards - Stuart Matthewman, Composer, Lyricist - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Recording Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jahnke, Assistant Engineer - Dom Rivinius, Drums

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

4
LALA (Unlocked)
00:04:31

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Darryl Ellis, Composer, Lyricist - Paul Richmond, Composer, Lyricist - Ruben Locke, Composer, Lyricist - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Ken Lewis, Other - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Drum Machine - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Khalif Brown, Composer, Lyricist - Swae Lee, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Alicia Keys feat. Swae Lee, AssociatedPerformer - Tyrone "Hookah" Johnson, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar - Don Rivinius, Other

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

5
Nat King Cole (Unlocked)
00:04:05

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Other, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Dwayne Carter, Composer, Lyricist - Natalie Hemby, Composer, Lyricist - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Bill Withers, Composer, Lyricist - Ken Lewis, Guitar, Horn, Bass - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Davide Rossi, Strings - Lil Wayne, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Tyrone Johnson, Composer, Lyricist - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Programmer - Marquell Middlebrooks, Composer, Lyricist - Gabriel Vivas, Bass - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Marzeratti, Co-Producer, Programmer - Rich Evatt, Assistant Engineer - Tyrone "Hookah" Johnson, Guitar - Don Rivinius, Drums - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer - Alicia Keys feat. Lil Wayne, AssociatedPerformer - Ty "Musicman" Johnson, Co-Producer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

6
Is It Insane (Unlocked)
00:04:27

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Asheton Hogan, Composer, Lyricist - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Kamala Sankaram, Accordion - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Programmer - Gabriel Vivas, Bass - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Pluss, Programmer - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Rich Evatt, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 AK Worldwide Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to RCA Records.

7
Come For Me (Unlocked)
00:03:29

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - MANNY MARROQUIN, Mixing Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - David Brown, Composer, Lyricist - Khalid, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Drum Machine - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - BJ Burton, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Carter Lang, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Khalid Robinson, Composer, Lyricist - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Lucky Daye, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - Zach Pereyra, Assistant Engineer - Rich Evatt, Assistant Engineer - Mike "Hunnid" McGregor, Composer, Lyricist - Anthony Vilchis, Assistant Engineer - Alicia Keys feat. Khalid & Lucky Daye, AssociatedPerformer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

8
Old Memories (Unlocked)
00:03:52

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Shondrae Crawford, Composer, Lyricist - Natalie Hemby, Composer, Lyricist, Background Vocal - Jaycen Joshua, Mixing Engineer - Bangladesh, Co-Producer, Drum Machine - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Drum Machine - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Jacob Collier, Composer, Lyricist, Choir, Piano, Background Vocal - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Rich Evatt, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Producer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
Dead End Road (Unlocked)
00:03:32

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dean McIntosh, Composer, Lyricist - MANNY MARROQUIN, Mixing Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Fred Ball, Producer, Guitar, Organ, Piano, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Bass - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Jay Mooncie, Producer - Fredrik Ball, Composer, Lyricist - Zach Pereyra, Assistant Engineer - Anthony Vilchis, Assistant Engineer - Oscar Soans-Burne, Guitar

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

10
Love When You Call My Name (Unlocked)
00:03:15

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Other, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Raphael Saadiq, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, Piano, Other, Background Vocal - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Programmer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

11
Daffodils (Unlocked)
00:03:04

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Piano, Other, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Background Vocal - Natalie Hemby, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, Background Vocal - Steve Wolf, Drums - Adam Blackstone, Bass - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Tyrone Johnson, Composer, Lyricist - Michael L. Williams II, Composer, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Mike Will Made-It, Producer, Drum Machine - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Kamron Krieger, Assistant Engineer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Engineer - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Engineer - Lou Carrao, Assistant Engineer - DJ Riggins, Assistant Engineer - Rich Evatt, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer - Ty "Musicman" Johnson, Co-Producer

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

12
Billions (Unlocked) Explicit
00:03:00

Alicia Keys, Composer, Lyricist, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - MANNY MARROQUIN, Mixing Engineer - Dave Kutch, Mastering Engineer - Ann Mincieli , Engineer, Recording Engineer - Kevin Peterson, Assistant Engineer - Brendan Morawski, Engineer - Abraham Orellana, Composer, Lyricist - Suzy Shinn, Producer, Programmer - Nathan Feler, Engineer - Zach Pereyra, Assistant Engineer - Vron, Producer, Programmer - Anthony Vilchis, Assistant Engineer - Aaron Jhenke, Assistant Engineer - Celisse, Guitar, Misc. Prod.

(P) 2021 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Going by title and release proximity -- never before had Alicia Keys released studio albums in consecutive years -- Keys seems set up to be pitched as a sequel to Alicia. Conversely, it's another ball of wax. Make that conjoined balls of wax. Disc one is essentially a standard Alicia Keys LP, while the second disc is an album of remixes plus two more new songs. It starts like a mixtape with Keys' anticipatory piano trailed by the stern voice of Pusha T and an equally menacing beat recycling the one from Beanie Sigel's "The Truth" (with that charged Graham Nash organ). Keys testifies her faith and gives thanks, and through the rest of the first set sings to a lover in varying states of their relationship, often with words of devotion and pleas to make it through the not-so-good times. The songs are more likely to evoke a feeling than have a clear meaning; to wit, "Somebody never told me there's a last time for everything/Even a landslide is an opening/Turning metal into gold" requires some interpretive skill to comprehend what Keys is putting across. The originals peak with "Best of Me," a crisp and sighing slow jam with a writing assist from Raphael Saadiq and a hint of Sade's "Cherish the Day." Two of Keys' most moving vocal performances are contained in "Is It Insane," an anguished torch song done acoustic jazz-trio style, and "Love When You Call My Name," a levitating ballad out of time. Keys produced most of the first disc on her own, and for the second disc teams almost exclusively with Mike WiLL Made-It and associates for the alternate versions. The makeovers range from subtle to fairly extreme. "Nat King Cole" is turned into hip-hop soul with an obvious debt to early Portishead (and an insignificant verse from Lil Wayne). The "Skydive" remodel, which likewise evokes the mid-'90s, is much craftier, retaining some of the bass from Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat" but smoothing it out to be in a class with Mary J. Blige's "Mary Jane (All Night Long)" or Groove Theory's "Tell Me." The latter half's new songs are two of the album's higher-profile collaborations: a tentative-sounding missed opportunity with Khalid and Lucky Daye, and an intoxicated duet with Swae Lee where Tyrone Davis' coasting 1979 hit "In the Mood" does most of the work.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo

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