BBC – Music – Evaluation of Alicia Keys

The Alicia Keys we discover on Woman on Fireplace is way faraway from how we left her on 2009’s The Component of Freedom, a rumination on the demise of her grandmother and the break-up of a relationship.

For the primary album of her 30s, Keys is now married (to producer-rapper Swizz Beatz) and the proud mom of a younger son. And understandably, the document takes this as its centre.

For all its massive beats and stellar collaborations (and there are a lot of: Frank Ocean, Emile Sandé, Darkchild, Babyface and Salaam Remi to call just a few), the core of the album is Keys’ exceptional voice and easy songwriting.

The tone is about by the piano introduction, a sombre reflective piece, after which the defiant, nose-thumbing Model New Me which makes Keys’ stance clear when she sings: “It’s been some time, I’m not who I used to be earlier than.”

Woman on Fireplace is basic Keys at her most business.  The attractive, sensual Fireplace We Make, a duet with Maxwell, is all muted horns and synth bass, a textbook quiet storm. The extra you hear this monitor, the deeper you fall in love with it.

Tears All the time Win, co-written by Bruno Mars, is a convincing soul/gospel pastiche, performed with a small band.

Not Even the King, written with Sandé, might be the important thing monitor. Shorn of all bangs and crashes, it’s a easy piano ballad, and though exploring the well-worn analogy of how being wealthy in love is best than all of the world’s cash (“Your arms round me / Value greater than a Kingdom”), it’s unusually and sweetly affecting.

The credit say that Woman on Fireplace was “conceptualised and produced” by Keys. Once you have a look at different artists of the same ilk, that she hasn’t simply dropped in to document with the newest producer.

Because of this, Woman on Fireplace is a great album, sustaining the excessive requirements set on The Component of Freedom. It showcases her as a maturing performer and retains her there or thereabouts alongside Beyoncé because the world’s main up to date stylist of mainstream RnB.

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This album is reviewed on Jo Whiley’s Radio 2 present on three December 2012

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