One of the world’s biggest pop stars releases her 6th studio album „HERE”. Are there any songs (or other stuff like ester eggs and meta things) we could be excited about?
Well, it’s tough question, because Keys hasn’t exactly been giving the answer what artist she will be now: old well-known pop diva, collaborating with Jay Z (or A$AP Rocky, for instance) or resurected singer-songwriter returning to soul and RnB roots like in „In Common”.
We really don’t know yet.
I don’t want to sound cynical, but songstress who opened last UEFA Champions League final, the day before album release, published short film called „The Gospel”, where foundation of „Here” was built. But do we have to listen more stories about poor black people and cops who abuse them? Artist must tells us personal story about family, growing up and creating process. All, of course, in beautiful, perfectly ballanced black and white shots. And in the background we’re hearing fragments of new songs. Clever, right?
It’s not bad idea, but to be honest, hasn’t this album been late about six months, has it? In June Blood Orange published Freetown Sound, where he initiated this rush to telling inconvenient stories in very convenient ways. „Best Of You”, „Augustine” or „Cardon Hollider” are strong tracks with something to tell and wonderful featuring artists like Empress Of or Nelly Furtado.
Also – Dev Hynes has created 17-tracks record with some kind of interludes inside. So we have real musical meat here. And more important: Freetown Sound wasn’t only Afro-Americans’ manifest, it included all minority at once.
Then, Solange time has come. Younger Knowles sister hits with A Seat at the Table on September 30th. Record made and is still making big noise, because of artistic and social experience. Interludes made from archival tapes, shreds of interviews and personal records was a bull’s-eye. That album also has included a bunch of recognizable artists such as Sampha, Kelela, Kelly Rowland and Lil Wayne.
Alicia Keys’s album doen’t feel like something new, however constantly tries to keep us in this belief.
It has a few songs that feel right, though. Even bad timing doesn’t cross out musical value of individual tracks. My personal favourite is „Illusion of Bliss”. New Yorker can tell good story, of course, she has a big songwriting potential and experience, so uses that.
Finally, obviousness – I wonder what would happened, if Here sounds like „In Common” entirely. Track from which everything has started. New Alicia Keys – self-aware person, brave woman and graceful artist. This is definitely my jam and it will stay that way to the end of time.
So, if Solange’s album would be perfect The Get Down soundtrack, Alicia Keys’s Here is only good fitting for Marvel’s Luke Cage – nice, with a few extraordinary conceptions, but as whole is too vague and sketchy. Does not have strong identity and doesn’t know what record want to be.
What about Freetown Sound it that case? Well, Devonté Hynes will probably want to direct own series to put his sounds in it :)
Listen to Here below.