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Alicia Keys|The Diary Of Alicia Keys

The Diary Of Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys

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Since Alicia Keys' 2001 debut album, Songs in A Minor, was ever so slightly overpraised, expectations for her second album, 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, were ever so slightly too high. Songs in A Minor not only kicked off a wave of ambitious new neo-soul songsters, it fit neatly into the movement of ambitious yet classicist new female singer/songwriters that ranged from the worldbeat-inflected pop of Nelly Furtado to the jazzy Norah Jones, whose success may not have been possible if Keys hadn't laid the groundwork with such soulful work as her hit "Fallin'." Such success at such a young age, even if deserved, can be too much too soon, since young songwriters showered with praise and riches may find it hard to see the world outside of their own cocoon. The very title of The Diary of Alicia Keys -- at once disarmingly simple and self-important -- suggests that Keys, like Furtado, took her stardom a little too seriously and felt compelled to present her worldview unfiltered, dispensing with artistic ambiguities and leaving each song as a portrait of Alicia Keys, the woman as a young artist. As she somewhat bafflingly says in her liner notes, "these songs are like my daily entrees," which likely means that these were indeed intended to play like unedited entries in a journal, a goal that she's fulfilled quite successfully, even if it does mean that the album often plays as a diary, leaving listeners in the role of observers instead of seeing themselves in the songs. This was a problem on Furtado's nearly simultaneously released Folklore, but Keys trumps her peer in one key way -- musically, this is a seamless piece of work, a sultry slow groove that emphasizes her breathy, seductive voice and lush soulfulness. Tonally, this is ideal late-night romantic music, even when the tempos are kicked up a notch as on the blaxploitation-fueled "Heartburn," yet beneath that sensuous surface there is some crafty, complex musicality, particularly in how Keys blurs lines between classic soul, modern rhythms, jazz, pop melodies, and singer/songwriter sensibility. It's an exceptionally well-constructed production, and as a sustained piece of sonic craft, it's not just seductive, it's a good testament to Keys' musical strengths (which can even withstand Andre Harris and Vidal Davis' irritating squeaky voice production signature on "So Simple"). What the album lacks are songs as immediate as "Fallin'" or as compelling as "A Woman's Worth," and that, combined with her insular outlook, is where Diary comes up short and reveals that it is indeed merely a second album. Such is the problem of arriving with a debut as fully formed as Songs in A Minor at such a young age -- listeners tend to expect more from the sequel, forgetting that this an artist still in her formative stages. So, those expecting another album where Keys sounds wise beyond her years will bound to be disappointed by The Diary of Alicia Keys, since her writing reveals her age in a way it never did on the debut. Yet that is a typical problem with sophomore efforts, and while this is a problem, it's one that is outweighed by her continually impressive musical achievements; they're enough to make The Diary worth repeated listens, and they're enough to suggest that Keys will continue to grow on her third album.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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The Diary Of Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys

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1
Harlem's Nocturne
Alicia Keys
00:01:43

Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Tony Black, Mixing Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Producer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Clavichord - Alicia Keys, Synthesizer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Composer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Karma
Alicia Keys
00:04:16

Dave Watson, Horns - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Recording Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Producer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Composer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Performer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Lyricist - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Taneisha Smith, Composer - Taneisha Smith, Lyricist - Joe Romano, Horns - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

3
Heartburn
Alicia Keys
00:03:28

Erika Rose, Lyricist - Erika Rose, Composer - Erika Rose, Background Vocal - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Composer - Candice Nelson, Lyricist - Candice Nelson, Composer - Jimmy Douglass, Mixing Engineer - T. Mosley, Lyricist - T. Mosley, Composer - Timbaland, Producer - Jessica Wilson, Background Vocal - Walter Millsap, Recording Engineer - Walter Millsap, Composer - Walter Millsap, Lyricist - Denise Stoudmire, Background Vocal - Dan Gautreau, 2nd Engineer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

4
If I Was Your Woman / Walk On By
Alicia Keys
00:03:06

Dwayne Wiggins, Sitar - Dwayne Wiggins, Acoustic Bass - Dwayne Wiggins, Producer - Pat Viala, Mixing Engineer - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Clarence McMurray, Lyricist - Clarence McMurray, Composer - Gloria Jones, Composer - Gloria Jones, Lyricist - Pam Sawyer, Lyricist - Pam Sawyer, Composer - Hal David, Composer - Hal David, Lyricist - Burt Bacharach, Composer - Burt Bacharach, Lyricist - Easy Mo Bee, Programmer - Easy Mo Bee, Producer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

5
You Don't Know My Name (Album Version)
Alicia Keys
00:06:06

Kanye West, Composer - Kanye West, Lyricist - Kanye West, Producer - Stanley Hunte, Violin - Marion Pinheiro, Violin - Alexander Vselensky, Violin - J.R. Bailey, Composer - J.R. Bailey, Lyricist - Robert Chausow, Viola - Xin M. Zhao, Violin - Ray Chew, Arranger - Ray Chew, Conductor - Avril Brown, Violin - Sharief Hobley, Guitar - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Ken Williams, Composer - Ken Williams, Lyricist - Barry Finclair, Viola - Maxine Roach, Viola - Sanford W. Allen, Violin - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - Melvin Kent, Composer - Melvin Kent, Lyricist - Kurt Briggs, Violin - Caryl Paisner, Acoustic Cello - Richard Brice, Viola - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Harold Lilly, Composer - Harold Lilly, Lyricist - Harold Lilly, Background Vocal - Eileen Folson, Acoustic Cello - John Legend, Background Vocal - Lori Miller, Violin

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

6
If I Ain't Got You
Alicia Keys
00:03:48

Cindy Mizelle, Background Vocal - Hugh McKracken, Guitar - CHOPS, Horns - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - L. Green, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Steve Jordan, Drums - Fred Cash, Jr., Acoustic Bass - Arcell Vickers, Organ - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Joe Romano, Horns - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Darryl Dixon, Horns - Katreese Barnes, Background Vocal - Dave Watson, Horns

(P) 2003 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
Diary
Alicia Keys featuring Tony! Toni! Toné! and Jermaine Paul
00:04:44

Dwayne Wiggins, Guitar - Stockley Carmichael, Background Vocal - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Jerimiah Paul, Background Vocal - Timothy Christian Riley, Piano - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Keyboards - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys featuring Tony! Toni! Toné! and Jermaine Paul, Performer - Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - John Smith, Guitar - Elijah Baker, Acoustic Bass - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Composer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Lyricist - Carl Wheeler, Piano - Carl Wheeler, Organ

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

8
Dragon Days
Alicia Keys
00:04:36

Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Co-Producer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Recording Engineer - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Ronnie Drayton, Guitar - Onree Gill, Organ - Fred Cash, Jr., Acoustic Bass - Alicia Keys, Synthesizer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Producer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

9
Wake Up
Alicia Keys
00:04:27

Stanley Hunte, Violin - Marion Pinheiro, Violin - Alexander Vselensky, Violin - Katreese Barnes, Background Vocal - Ray Chew, Conductor - Ray Chew, Arranger - Julien Barber, Viola - Russell Elevado, Mixing Engineer - Peter VanDerwater, Viola - Andricka Hall, Background Vocal - Avril Brown, Violin - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Willie Weeks, Acoustic Bass - Barry Finclair, Viola - Maxine Roach, Viola - Sanford W. Allen, Violin - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Arranger - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Keyboards - Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - Cindy Mizelle, Background Vocal - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Lyricist - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Composer - Melissa Meell, Acoustic Cello - Gwendolyn Laster, Violin - Richard Brice, Viola - Dale Stuckenbruck, Violin - Marisol Espada, Acoustic Cello

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

10
So Simple
Alicia Keys featuring Lellow
00:03:49

Harold Lilly, Composer - Harold Lilly, Lyricist - Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - Andre Harris, Performer - Andre Harris, Lyricist - Andre Harris, Producer - Andre Harris, Composer - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Tony Black, Mixing Engineer - Vidal Davis, Producer - Vidal Davis, Composer - Vidal Davis, Performer - Vidal Davis, Lyricist - Alicia Keys featuring Lellow, Performer - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Vincent DiLorenzo, Recording Engineer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

11
When You Really Love Someone
Alicia Keys
00:04:09

Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - Steve "Styles" Rodriguez, Acoustic Bass - Artie White, Guitar - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Lyricist - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Composer - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Dan Gautreau, 2nd Engineer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Synthesizer - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Keyboards - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Producer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

12
Feeling U, Feeling Me (Interlude)
Alicia Keys
00:02:07

Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Tony Black, Mixing Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Recording Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Programmer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Synthesizer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alan Ford, 2nd Engineer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

13
Slow Down
Alicia Keys
00:04:18

Artie White, Guitar - Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Kumasi, Synthesizer - Kumasi, Producer - Kumasi, Programmer - L. Green, Composer - L. Green, Lyricist - Erika Rose, Lyricist - Erika Rose, Composer - Alicia Keys, Synthesizer - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Performer

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

14
Samsonite Man
Alicia Keys
00:04:12

Steve "Styles" Rodriguez, Acoustic Bass - Erika Rose, Lyricist - Erika Rose, Composer - Erika Rose, Background Vocal - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - L. Green, Background Vocal - Ricky Quinones, Guitar - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Piano - Fred Cash, Jr., Acoustic Bass - Arcell Vickers, Organ - Onree Gill, Piano - Ann Mincieli, Recording Engineer - Rabeka Tuinei, 2nd Engineer - Manny Marroquin, Mixing Engineer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Producer - Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Jr., Drums - Pablo Batista, Percussion

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

15
Nobody Not Really (Interlude)
Alicia Keys
00:02:56

Steve "Styles" Rodriguez, Acoustic Bass - Erika Rose, Background Vocal - Tony Black, Mixing Engineer - Tony Black, Recording Engineer - Alicia Keys, Performer - Alicia Keys, Background Vocal - Alicia Keys, Composer - Alicia Keys, Lyricist - Alicia Keys, Producer - Alicia Keys, Piano - Ricky Quinones, Guitar - L. Green, Background Vocal - Taneisha Smith, Composer - Taneisha Smith, Lyricist - Taneisha Smith, Background Vocal - Arcell Vickers, Organ - Onree Gill, Piano - Pablo Batista, Percussion - Paul John, Drums - Dave Watson, Flute - Dave Watson, Saxophone

(P) 2003 RCA/JIVE Label Group, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Since Alicia Keys' 2001 debut album, Songs in A Minor, was ever so slightly overpraised, expectations for her second album, 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, were ever so slightly too high. Songs in A Minor not only kicked off a wave of ambitious new neo-soul songsters, it fit neatly into the movement of ambitious yet classicist new female singer/songwriters that ranged from the worldbeat-inflected pop of Nelly Furtado to the jazzy Norah Jones, whose success may not have been possible if Keys hadn't laid the groundwork with such soulful work as her hit "Fallin'." Such success at such a young age, even if deserved, can be too much too soon, since young songwriters showered with praise and riches may find it hard to see the world outside of their own cocoon. The very title of The Diary of Alicia Keys -- at once disarmingly simple and self-important -- suggests that Keys, like Furtado, took her stardom a little too seriously and felt compelled to present her worldview unfiltered, dispensing with artistic ambiguities and leaving each song as a portrait of Alicia Keys, the woman as a young artist. As she somewhat bafflingly says in her liner notes, "these songs are like my daily entrees," which likely means that these were indeed intended to play like unedited entries in a journal, a goal that she's fulfilled quite successfully, even if it does mean that the album often plays as a diary, leaving listeners in the role of observers instead of seeing themselves in the songs. This was a problem on Furtado's nearly simultaneously released Folklore, but Keys trumps her peer in one key way -- musically, this is a seamless piece of work, a sultry slow groove that emphasizes her breathy, seductive voice and lush soulfulness. Tonally, this is ideal late-night romantic music, even when the tempos are kicked up a notch as on the blaxploitation-fueled "Heartburn," yet beneath that sensuous surface there is some crafty, complex musicality, particularly in how Keys blurs lines between classic soul, modern rhythms, jazz, pop melodies, and singer/songwriter sensibility. It's an exceptionally well-constructed production, and as a sustained piece of sonic craft, it's not just seductive, it's a good testament to Keys' musical strengths (which can even withstand Andre Harris and Vidal Davis' irritating squeaky voice production signature on "So Simple"). What the album lacks are songs as immediate as "Fallin'" or as compelling as "A Woman's Worth," and that, combined with her insular outlook, is where Diary comes up short and reveals that it is indeed merely a second album. Such is the problem of arriving with a debut as fully formed as Songs in A Minor at such a young age -- listeners tend to expect more from the sequel, forgetting that this an artist still in her formative stages. So, those expecting another album where Keys sounds wise beyond her years will bound to be disappointed by The Diary of Alicia Keys, since her writing reveals her age in a way it never did on the debut. Yet that is a typical problem with sophomore efforts, and while this is a problem, it's one that is outweighed by her continually impressive musical achievements; they're enough to make The Diary worth repeated listens, and they're enough to suggest that Keys will continue to grow on her third album.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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