Album Review: ALICIA

Alicia Keys Returns!

ALICIA - An Album ReviewALICIA is the seventh studio album of Alicia Keys. It consists of 15 songs – seven of which are duets and five are with music videos before the official album release on September 18.

Watch her interview with Apple Music.

There are two keywords to describe this album, beautiful & sexy.

Track 1: Truth Without Love

The first track sounds average the first time I heard it. There are too many playing elements on the background but I am happy Alicia gives it a kick. Her vocals soar high, making me forget how busy this song can be.

Track 2: Time Machine

This sounds sexy. It is underrated but it sounds fun and even sexier when Alicia starts singing.

Track 3: Authors of Forever

The title sounds ambitious but it surprises me that it delivers right on the dot. It sounds friendly to my ears, making me feel happy after a busy day at the office.

Track 4: Wasted Energy

This is the first duet of the seven. Alicia sings it with Diamond Platnumz. It sounds powerful. It sounds soulful. I kind of like it but it is not the kind of duo that can revolve around my head all day.

Track 5: Underdog

This is my favorite. The first time I heard it, I could immediately connect with the message it sends to the world. Alicia Keys makes this song her album signature. This is her brand in the same vein with If I Ain’t Got You, No One and Girl On Fire.

Track 6: 3-Hour Drive

This is the second duo of the seven. Alicia’s voice blends well with Sampha. Its intro sounds like droplets of water on a clean surface.

Track 7: Me x 7

The title of this song sounds a bit weird the first time I read it. What’s this and what’s that. Though when I start listening, it sounds cute. Alicia sings the word “Me” like a candy. Thanks for the rap assistance, Tierra Whack!

Track 8: Show Me Love

It surprises me why this is the album’s lead. I was not into it. Don’t get me wrong, her collab with Miguel is brilliant. Love my man, Miguel, though I forced myself to love the song even if I could instantly felt I neither dislike nor like it.

Track 9: So Done

This is my number one favorite of the seven duets. It sounds sexy, soulful and light to my ears. Every time I hear it, the song brings me joy and it makes me feel inspired. Khalid is flawless here too. His parts add an extra layer of calm to an already smooth surface.

Track 10: Gramercy Park

This is a total surprise! There is something extra special with this song I cannot put into words. Let’s say, it ideally sounds like a powerful lead single than Show Me Love. Watch the live performance during her Tiny Desk Concert starting in 9:08.

Track 11: Love Looks Better

It is a fun song. It is not one of my strong favorites but it is pretty a nice song that can potentially grow on me in the right time.

Track 12: You Save Me

This is another brilliant duet with Snoh Aalegra. Just brilliant!

Track 13: Jill Scott

I love Jill Scott, and I feel happy Alicia sings a song with her and with her name as the title. It seems a smooth flowing song that I can immediately vibe with.

Track 14: Perfect Way To Die

This song articulates what Black Lives Matter means. It is more than a movement. It is a lifestyle 24/7 and 365 days every year. And, listening to this song makes me realize how messy this world is. The inequality and the discrimination narrated in the song made and makes me cry still.

Track 15: Good Job

This is a beautiful song to end an album. Amid pandemic in which everything remains uncertain and everyone feels anxious, this is the kind of song we need to hear every day.

Listen for free.

#Deantastic O-Score: 4 of 5 stars!

My Year-End Countdown

No one cares about this countdown but me.

10. Mad At U – Leven Kali

9. Waves – Normani ft. 6LACK

8. Easy – Next Town Down ft. 6LACK

7. Got Me Singing – Jaafar Jackson

6. Sunflower – Post Malone & Swae Lee

5. Dip – Tyga ft. Nicki Minaj

4. Extraordinary Being – Emeli Sande

3. Change – Arin Ray ft. Kehlani

2. If You Met Me First – Eric Ethridge

(1) Power is Power – SZA, The Weeknd, Travis Scott

My Year-End Countdown

No one cares about this countdown but me, I know. But you got to admit it, 2018 is great! Countless songs are released but only one makes my number one. Who? Before the revelation, let’s start with number fifty.

Charlie-Puth

50) GOOD MAN – NE-YO
49) NIGHTTIME – Trevor Jackson
48) GARDEN (Say it like that) – SZA
47) SKTR SKTR – Tory Lanez
46) INSIDE – Jacquees ft. Trey Songz
45) LEVEL UP – Ciara
44) APES**T – The Carters
43) END GAME – Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran & Future
42) IN MY FEELINGS – Drake
41) PINEAPPLE – Ty Dolla $ign ft. Gucci Mane, Quavo
40) NO BRAINER – DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper, Quavo
39) FILTHY – Justin Timberlake
38) SHINE – Gabrielle
37) WITH MY WORDS – R. LUM.R
36) I HOPE HE BREAKS YOUR HEART – Frankie J
35) 42 (GROWN-UP TIPSY) – Brian McKnight
34) BLACK & BLUE – Elijah Blake
33) EXCITED – Lloyd
32) CONNECTION – OneRepublic (wild entry)
31) IF YOU LEAVE ME NOW – Charlie Puth ft. Boyz II Men
30) WAKE UP IN THE SKY – Gucci Mane ft. Bruno Mars, KB
29) MADE FOR NOW – Janet Jackson ft. Daddy Yankee
28) DROWNING – Mario
27) COME THROUGH & CHILL – Miguel ft. J. Cole
26) PRAY FOR ME – The Weeknd ft. Kendrick Lamar
25) LONG AS I LIVE – Toni Braxton (wild entry)
24) ATM – J. Cole
23) PSYCHO – Post Malone
22) PROTOTYPE – Kevin Ross
21) STAY ON YOUR MIND – Kenny Lattimore
20) MARKED & SCARRED – Kelvin Frazier
19) SICKO MODE – Travis Scott ft. Drake
18) BARBIE DREAMS – Nicki Minaj
17) THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino
16) FINESSE (Remix) – Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B.
15) DON’T JUDGE ME – Ty Dolla Sign ft. Furture, Swae Lee
14) I DON’T THINK ABOUT YOU – Kelly Clakson
13) GTFO – Mariah Carey
12) GROWING PAINS – Alessia Cara
11) BOO’D UP – Ella Mai
10) STIR FLY – Migos
9) POWERGLIDE – Rae Sremmurd ft. Juicy J., Swae Lee, SJ
8) ATTENTION – Fat Joe ft. Chris Brown, Dre
7) TASTE – Tyga ft. Offset
6) NO LIMIT – G-Eazy ft. ASAP Rocky, Cardi B.
5) OTW – Khalid ft. 6LACK, Ty Dolla Sign
4) A GOOD NIGHT – John Legend ft. BloodPop
3) GOES LIKE THAT – Mario
2) ALL THE STARS – Kendrick Lamar ft. Sza
(1) THE WAY I AM – Charlie Puth

Album Review: “A”

It’s supposed to be an ordinary Saturday morning. I signed-in to my Facebook and couldn’t believe my eyes. Usher’s newest album appeared in my News Feed. I immediately checked his YouTube Channel to confirm. All his new tracks were uploaded there, so is on his Spotify.

Usher_Rolling Stone

There’s something rare about “A.” It’s Usher’s ninth studio album exclusively produced by Zaytoven – a record producer from Atlanta Georgia. There’s more. There are only eight tracks in total length of 27:09 released publicly without formal announcement. All these tracks completely separate themselves from his 2016’s Hard II Love.

Hard II Love screams that Usher returns to R&B for good. “A” levels up – putting Usher in his most comfortable haven. There is a southern urban sound that narrates stories about sex, regret and greatness.

TRACK 1: Stay At Home (ft. Future)

Usher opens “A” with a heavy trap song about suspicion. Usher narrates a romantic relationship that gets weaker. First moment I listen to this, I immediately sense a dark shade of infidelity. 5 STARS!

TRACK 2: ATA

Seems like the story from Track 1 continues in Atlanta abbreviated as “ATA.” Usher sings to his girl about the life he can give to her if the relationship stays strong. There’s nothing remarkable about the song except for the overuse word “Lay.” As the song lays, it contains nothing new but mostly a superficial message. Never count Usher out though. He manages to put a blend of how awesome he is no matter how bleak the situation is. The song can eventually grow in you. 3 STARS!

TRACK 3: Peace Sign

Of course, an Usher album stays incomplete without sex. This is it. Basically, this is more about seduction before the actual core game begins. I heard a lot of sex songs narrated in different versions but this one brings something unique to the table. It’s entirely different and shorter in length from Nice and Slow but it’s enough to get your attention while displaying a peace sign all over. 5 STARS!

TRACK 4: You Decide

This is my instant favorite. It sounds lighter compared to the first three tracks. It feels light but once I put myself inside the story, I realize it reveals a story of a man who kneels down to give a failing relationship a second chance. He begs. He promises. He lets her decide. 5 STARS!

TRACK 5: Birthday

This is a no pressure song. It’s a song that peels a softer smoother tone but lacking in depth. It’s his girl’s birthday – I get that – and they will have real fun – I get that too. They dance. They sing. They splurge. They have sex. They eat all day – they do whatever they want… then what? 2 STARS!

TRACK 6: She Ain’t Tell Ya

There’s something about this song that caught my attention. It’s about lies. It sends a message to me that it’s impossible to expect total honesty in a relationship. It hurts but it’s the truth. The truth always hurts. 5 STARS!

TRACK 7: Say What U Want

This is my instant favorite too. The song gets an even surface. It neither sounds too rough nor too smooth. There’s depth too. Usher doesn’t want to end a relationship. He persuades her to express what she feels. He knows the relationship is dying but he still hopes for something good to happen. Even it hurts more, he wants to continue. 5 STARS!

TRACK 8: Gift Shop (ft. Gunna)

Usher ends “A” with his new signature sound. For some, this sounds generic but once I listen closely, it’s something fun and easy but quite forgettable. Usher sings like he raps while Gunna give his own spins, adding a layer of hard candy to a chocolate cake. 2 STARS!

Usher AOverall Rating: From what I’ve heard, Usher is clearly in his zone. I miss his soulful vocals – the kind of sound in Superstar from the album “So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross” but this is his brand new sound. He grew up in Atlanta and there’s nothing greater in life but to return to your southern roots.

I might have a cognitive dissonance as of the writing but I’m stating to believe this is the direction he will pursue.

Is it for long-term listen? Probably yes. It takes time to know the exact answer. Long-term listen, to me, means the album gets months older but I still listen to it.

Is it worth the length? Not sure if it’s worth for all his fans’ expectations. This is the first time in his career that he releases a studio album with only eight tracks. To me, it’s worth the listen and it feels he can do better with these tracks, making the lyrics more memorable like he did in Track 7 – not necessarily longer.

For the time being, I’m satisfied with its imperfection. A couple of tracks sounds similar but it didn’t destroy the overall quality. Each song complements the other; therefore, it’s fairly okay to have similar spins.

Most Memorable Track? Track 7: Say What U Want

Photos Courtesy of: Rolling Stone