Alicia Keys 'Girl on Fire' smolders for the holidays
MISANI and STAN RYAN Special to the AmNews | 1/22/2013, 2:55 p.m.
On the empowering first track, "Brand New Me," Keys' significant lyrics unveil a woman taking back her power. Her conversation with her lover--whom she is courageously confronting after a long time of being the overly submissive one in the relationship--echoes the reality of life for many women. Musically, the song starts off with a three-chord repeating progress of Keys' acoustic piano, while her very mellow lead vocal, which has been recorded with a lot of compression to tame it, takes over. The beauty of this song is that it is pure and simple. Therein lies its distinctiveness, and Keys gets intense with her voice, which is absolutely perfect on both the lead and background vocals. On the second verse, Keys is supported by strings arranged and performed by Davide Rossi, as well as a tasteful percussion track of toms and snare. The multitalented Keys is also on Moog and the CP-70 grand piano. The total package is what you would call a great performance.
Keys teams up marvelously with Maxwell on the love song "Fire We Make," a '70s-style R&B number. The strong bass sound, solid bass drum kick, the horns under the vocals, the ad libs in the middle and end of the song, and Maxwell's signature handclaps are all to live for. And as if all of this artistry were not enough, check out Keys' lyrics for the chorus: "This invisible pull that takes us to the stars / It's getting higher and higher / It's the fire we make / It's getting sweeter and sweeter / Like a night to the day / I can't stay away / Saying no no no no / No no." Wow! Yes. Yes. Yes! There's no staying away from the pure, sweet magic of this song.
The jam is on with the track "Tears Always Win." It's time for blue light and a house party with this kind of funky hip-hop beat. Yet, at the same time, the moving, introspective lyrics about love lost take you to another place. The orchestration is kept simple enough to play live and be convincing using only a typical rhythm section, drums, guitar, bass and Keys on acoustic piano. A sampled siren sound floats in and out filling in holes and moving the track along beautifully. The use of a thick background is a nice contrast to some of the other songs on the multi-varied album. The bridge forces Keys to sing at her extreme range (top of her range). And she is absolutely marvelous. Yes! This is yet another exceptional song.
This is just a sample. The other tracks are all special. Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire" is a masterpiece that is sure to become a classic. We strongly suggest the album for your holiday gifts. It is the perfect CD for your New Year's Eve party. Happy Holidays.
For further information, visit www.aliciakeys.com, www.facebook.com/aliciakeys or www.twitter.com/aliciakeys.