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Alicia Keys – Songs In A Minor

I had the weirdest reason for buying this (for $2): my buddy Brian saw her in concert in New York City one time, and said it was a really good show. If Brian says thumbs up, I’m game to try it. Also, I’ll listen to just about anything, so I was in.

Wiki calls this a Neo Soul album. That’s about right, by definition of both words. For example, the first four tracks:

Piano & I adds beats to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata… oh, and a lot of uh huhs and yeahs, too. Girlfriend grooves along with fairly simple arrangement, and was a single. Next she covers Prince’s How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore (retitled here as How Come You Don’t Call Me). It’s a decent soul track (also released as a single), complete with backing vocals. Shades of Aretha here, with modern production values. Next is Fallin’, which I think everyone on the planet has heard, even if they don’t know this single by title. Also, your ears aren’t deceiving you – it samples James Brown’s It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World. Soulful and slinky.

And that’s three singles in the first four tracks – and the fourth was an intro. The rest of the record continues on in this vein – there’s one more actual single (A Woman’s Worth), and a lot more that could’ve been. Jimmy Crozier adds his vocals to Mr. Man, and there’s a boatload of more piano-driven r&b and soulful tunes.

This record has a real sensibility, a respect and appreciation of the past yet an embracing of the current. I like how busy it is – with the good headphones on, I could hear all of the extra little touches and elements added to the songs to make them so full. – strings, solo violins, extra vocals, a weird boinging noise in one track… This is a full-on production.

In Sum:

You know what I’m gonna say: I liked this! It’s not what I listen to all the time, and I am by no means whatsoever knowledgeable about this type of music in a way that would allow me to write a real review of it, but my time with this record was quite satisfying. I’ll play this again, for sure.

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