Alicia Keys – KEYS II

RCA Records

Release Date: August 12th 2022

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Alicia Keys– KEYS II (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Plentiful (Originals) [feat. Pusha T]
  2. Skydive (Originals)
  3. Best Of Me (Originals)
  4. Dead End Road (Originals)
  5. Is It Insane (Originals)
  6. Billions (Originals)
  7. Love When You Call My Name (Originals)
  8. Only You (Originals)
  9. Daffodils (Originals)
  10. Old Memories (Originals)
  11. Nat King Cole (Originals)
  12. Paper Flowers (Originals) [feat. Brandi Carlile]
  13. Like Water (Originals)
  14. Stay (feat. Lucky Daye)
  15. In Common (Black Coffee Remix)
  16. KEYS
  17. Only You (Unlocked)
  18. Skydive (Unlocked)
  19. Best Of Me (Unlocked)
  20. LALA (Unlocked) [feat. Swae Lee]
  21. Nat King Cole (Unlocked) [feat. Lil Wayne]
  22. Is It Insane (Unlocked)
  23. Come For Me (Unlocked) [feat. Khalid & Lucky Daye]
  24. Old Memories (Unlocked)
  25. Dead End Road (Unlocked)
  26. Love When You Call My Name (Unlocked)
  27. Daffodils (Unlocked)
  28. Billions (Unlocked)
  29. Trillions (feat. Brent Faiyaz)
  30. In Common (Kaskade Radio Mix)

One of the most inspiring, comforting, honest, vulnerable, thought-provoking, and impacting albums I’ve heard recently, is R&B artist Alicia Keys’ album ALICIA. I didn’t review the album (Jon did!), but songs like “Underdog”, “Love Looks Better” and “Good Job” in particular, impressed me greatly, and showed us all how brilliant, emotive and powerful Alicia is as an artist. Jon wrote about Alicia in his blog post about influential artists, and as Jon spoke about hit songs at length, such as “No One”, “If I Ain’t Got You”, “Fallin”, “A Woman’s Worth”, “Girl on Fire”, “Superwoman”, “Brand New Me”, “Empire State of Mind Part II”, “In Common” and “Blended Family” to name a few; Jon also delved deep into Alicia’s vulnerability and her willingness to speak about issues maybe swept under the rug in the majority of mainstream music. And as I have indirectly listened to a lot of music Jon has in preparation for his blogs, I can safely and definitely concur that Alicia’s music is one of a kind, and I also wholeheartedly agree with everything that Jon has outlined in his blog, that ‘…Alicia’s music slightly has the edge- creating music that challenges the status quo about a lot of issues that may have been untouched, swept under the rug and not discussed for years, had it not been for these melodies. Alicia’s songs have a certain raw and honest feel to them- there is a certain aspect of drive and passion that I’ve observed in Alicia’s vocals and her mannerisms in a lot of her online interviews, that I’ve haven’t seen as much of in the mainstream music industry, even up to this point, which is very unfortunate indeed. Alicia’s music, reach and impact stretches far and wide…[and] the brand new album from Alicia is finally here, presenting to us 15 tracks of hope, encouragement, honesty, emotion and poignancy, all wrapped into this name of the album- ‘Alicia’- meaning that this set of songs most likely embodies what she has experienced in life thus far, and these songs fully encompasses where she is at the moment in the stage of life she is in…’.

I may not have been well versed in the vulnerable, authentic, honest, and powerful music that Alicia Keys has released all throughout her career. One could say that I’m somewhat of a casual fan of Alicia, bordering on more than casual. But when Alicia unveiled KEYS, the all-original double disc album in December last year (which is obviously the companion album to 2020’s ALICIA, and also which I reviewed earlier this year!); I knew I had to listen to this project and voice my thoughts on it. Not just to further my musical education, but to remind myself how God can show up and move and inspire us through one of the most relevant and hopeful and much needed artists of today. Alicia is deeply influential and popular in today’s society, and though a great extent of her discography, inclusive of this current album KEYS, isn’t labelled as Christian (in fact, I don’t really know of Alicia’s personal religious beliefs, period!); the fact of the matter still remains, that God has used Alicia’s music way beyond what even she could’ve comprehended, and far beyond what any of us could’ve comprehended also. And far beyond that; God has been using Alicia’s music to place to the forefront issues that need to be discussed that probably wouldn’t normally be spoken about. Yes, it’s true that Christian music and CCM and worship music will always have a place in my heart, because it speaks about Jesus and our hope and security in Him; but heartfelt and meaningful music like Alicia’s is not that far behind in terms of my enjoyment and enrichment for my soul.

We reviewed the album here, so there’s no point in me diving deep into something that has already been reviewed. But just last month, Alicia unveiled KEYS II. I assumed this to be an original album and a sequel to KEYS, and I thought ‘beauty, ok, let’s take a look at this release and I’ll review it!’. But… imagine my surprise when I found out that this 30-track album was a re-release of KEYS, with 4 new recordings (2 remixes of “In Common”- a hit song from the 2016 album HERE, as well as the new songs “Stay” and “Trillions”). It’s a deluxe album rather than a brand-new album- and I was toying with the idea of not reviewing it for a while. But then I decided to give these new songs a chance… and hence, I am now deciding to ‘review’ this project now. Both ALICIA and KEYS were so incredibly awesome- and I was hyped for another new album… but that doesn’t mean that this deluxe edition isn’t inspiring and moving, because it still is.

“Stay”, with Lucky Daye, is a powerful, emotional, and personal ballad, where Alicia sings about her relationship with her husband- it has its ups and downs, but their love lasts through the difficult times, and their love is here to stay. It’s a wonderful, encouraging, and hopeful melody that makes us believe in the possibility of love for each one of us (even if Lucky’s vocals are synthesised beyond comprehension!); while the ‘new’ melody “Trillions” is a re-worked and re-recorded version of “Billions”, with Brent Faiyaz on guest vocals. The last two unfamiliar melodies are remixes of Alicia’s smash hit “In Common” from back in the day- and each remix adds a new layer to the already impressive, poignant and inspiring melody, where Alicia speaks about the common similarities between two people, and how those similarities bind people together on a soul level and on a spiritual level as well.

There’s not much I need to say about Alicia Keys’ double album KEYS. Ambitious, powerful, encouraging, inspiring, thought-provoking, introspective, reflective, and even at times worshipful, Alicia has recorded probably the album of her career. And as I’ve heard KEYS II the past few days; this sentiment is still the same for me. Save for a couple of tracks like “LALA” and “Come For Me”, the rest of these songs have immense replay value, including the ‘new’ tracks. And now I’ll end the album here, because you all need to get onto this… stat! First off, read Jon’s review of Alicia and then his blog about her. And now listen to KEYS (and KEYS II) with open ears and open hearts. You’ll be amazed by what you hear. No doubt God is working. We just need to be ready and available to listen! Well done, Alicia, I can’t wait to hear what is next for you in the rest of 2022 and 2023! Maybe a Christmas album?

6 songs to listen to: Dead End Road (Original), Daffodils (Original), Old Memories (Original), Paper Flowers, Stay, Nat King Cole (Unlocked)

Score: 4.5/5

RIYL: John Legend, Lecrae, Mariah Carey, Kirk Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez

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