Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire
Text: Joelle Chong
Mention Alicia Keys, and you know you are in for some R&B and soul.
Back with her fifth studio album Girl on Fire, the American singer and pianist goes against tradition and joins forces with Nicki Minaj on her title track of the same name. The two artistes with contrasting styles strangely and surprisingly complement each other. Minaj occasionally outshines in her featuring, but in this case, Key’s vocals remain the highlight of the song.
Upbeat, percussion-led ‘New Day’, produced by Keys’ husband Swizz Beats, sees the singer deviate from her comfort zone. Nonetheless, the strong rhythm of the drums and Keys’ singing will have you grooving along in no time, although we are kind of skeptical about the crazy turntable mix nearing the end of the track.
Keys’ forte is in piano-led R&B and that is where she shines the most. Opening track ‘Brand New Me’ is a delicate song, in which the narrator declares her independence. The soothing melody coupled with the singer’s rich and raw vocals give the lyrics a tender but strong conviction.
‘Tears Always Win’ has a Bruno Mars-vibe because of the slightly cheery and uplifting tune, but that should come as no surprise since the singer participated in the composition of the song. Worthy of a mention is the intricately-arranged background choral, which goes well with Keys’ voice perfectly.
Keys also performs without her trusty piano in the song ‘That’s When I Knew’, opting for the guitar instead. The end result is an acoustic and impromptu feel to the song, drawing listeners in right from the start.
Recommended tracks: Brand New Me, Tears Always Win, That’s When I Knew