Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire

Production: Alicia Keys, Jeff Bhasker, Pop & Oak, Salaam Remi, Swizz Beatz, The Smeezingtons

Lead Single: Girl on Fire

Avg Rating: 32121   3.0 ( 1 total votes )

     

STREAM BUY READ REVIEW

Veteran R&B/pop songstress Alicia Keys has dropped new album Girl on Fire, via RCA Records. The singer's first full-length since 2009's The Element of Freedom, the project features 13 original records, including the set's lead single and title track, as well as featured cuts "Not Even the King."

Nicki Minaj and Maxwell make guest appearances throughout the LP, which features production by Keys herself along with production from Jeff Bhasker, Pop & Oak, Salaam Remi, Swizz Beatz, and The Smeezingtons.

Fans can also check out Alicia Keys's previous albums: Alicia Keys - The Element of Freedom | Alicia Keys - As I Am


Stream Girl on Fire




DJBooth Album Review


It’s now been more than a decade since a 20-year-old Alicia Keys first blew open the doors of R&B with her debut album, Songs In A Minor, and since that time she’s been stunningly consistent, and consistently great. We’re talking over 35 million albums sold, numerous number one singles and fourteen Grammys. Yep, that’s right, fourteen. With the exception of Beyonce, Keys has been R&B’s unquestioned queen in the 21st century, but she never seemed as eager to sit on the throne as Queen B. Beyonce overwhelms us with her talent, Keys wraps hers around you like a kiss. Alicia has never seemed untouchable, more like the girl next door – if the girl next door just so happened to sing and play the piano better than nearly anyone else on the planet. Other than all that though, she’s no big deal.

One of the keys to Keys' longevity has been her ability to hold true to her classical roots while embracing new sounds. By avoiding the genre’s “hottest” trends she’s also avoided fading away alongside those trends, and her new album Girl on Fire is no different. With small exceptions (perhaps induced by her, it must be said, uber-trendy husband Swizz Beatz), Girl on Fire is in many ways her most complex and subtle project yet. Whether it’s a new marriage, motherhood, a more private revelation or a combination of all of them, Girl on Fire is, despite its title, absolutely the work of a supremely confident woman, and a pretty calm and cool one at that.

Fittingly the album’s more subdued and conversational tone is exemplified in the album’s opening track (minus an instrumental intro), Brand New Me. Before it builds into a triumphant crescendo Brand New Me is almost entirely simply a piano and Key’s vocals, a stripped down approach that only the most confident would dare try. That tendency towards the simple is echoed even more powerfully in 101, which spends its first five minutes with only the barest of instrumentation before exploding into a fully orchestrated second movement. And the album’s most easily enjoyed selection, Tears Always Win, harkens back to ‘60s soul in its approach. Here we’re about as far from popping bottles in the club, or even worse Auto-Tune, as we could possibly get, and it feels good.

That doesn’t mean Girl on Fire is completely devoid of more modern touches, including a Nicki Minaj opening verse on the title track that, even though Nicki’s as serious and non-insane as I can remember hearing her, ultimately sounds forced; it’s a musical appendix, easily removed without any harm to the host. Similarly, New Day is overflowing with Swizz Beatz' signature drums and uptempo snare lines, a sound that might make it a staple of NBA games and sports stadiums nationwide, but in headphones mostly serves to drown out the small vocal touches that make Alicia so unique in the first place. By contrast, Empire State of Mind managed to be even more epic while giving Keys far more breathing room. It’s not that Alicia can’t go high-energy, it’s just that when she does the gap between her and everyone else narrows, and who wants that?

Thankfully, the vast majority of the album sticks to far more laid back fare. When It’s All Over might confuse more radio-tunes listeners with its jazz time signatures and more experimental percussion, but it’s exactly the kind of genre-bending track that only someone with a few platinum albums in her catalog could convince a record label to include on a major album. On the downside, I don’t know if Girl on Fire has that one track that absolutely takes your breath away: see Un-Thinkable, Like You’ll Never See Me Again, You Don’t Know My Name, etc. Fire We Make comes close, it’s easily the album’s most sultry offering, but it still doesn’t quite knock me over. Maybe that’s the point of Girl on Fire though. Alicia’s at a point in her career where she no long feels the need to push us into powerful moments. Instead, she’s now content to let us come to her, confident that given enough time and enough listens we’ll grow to love the music as much as anything she’s done before. Frankly I don’t know if time will someday elevate Girl on Fire to something closer to classic status, but I’m going to enjoy finding out.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins


  Written by on 11/28/12


Related Songs & Features


Alicia Keys - Tears Always Win Artwork

Alicia Keys - Tears Always Win

The last video single off Alicia Keys’ fifth full-length found her kindling a metaphorical flame with the help of neo-soul veteran Maxwell. But passion, however scorching it may be at first, has an unfortunate tendency...

Average Rating: 32101
Alicia Keys & Maxwell - Fire We Make Artwork

Alicia Keys & Maxwell - Fire We Make

Girl on Fire, the title track and lead single off Alicia Keys’ fifth studio album, depicted a young pop starlet struggling to keep her artistic spark alive despite the burning stares of the people around her. Her latest...

Average Rating: 21021
Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire Artwork

Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire

Update: Click “Watch Video” above to view the Girl On Fire video. Mobile users can scroll down. Somebody call 911… sh*t, wrong song. While the lead single (original pick New Day has been handed off to 50...

Average Rating: 32101
Alicia Keys Pic

Alicia Keys - Not Even The King

Now that NYC native and hit-making songstress Alicia Keys has had her fair share of triumph, thanks to the Jeff Bhasker and Salaam Remi-produced single Girl On Fire, the singer has slowed things down a notch on her latest...

Average Rating: 32101
Alicia Keys Pic

Alicia Keys - New Day

Incredibly it’s been more than two years since we last heard a major release from Alicia Keys (2010’s Unthinkable Remix), and in the meantime a lot has changed for the songstress. With a new husband (Swizz Beatz) and a...

Average Rating: 32121
 

Member Reviews and Ratings






DJBooth TV




Flame

TOP 20 MUSIC CHARTS


Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.