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The Diary Of Alicia Keys
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ALICIA KEYS The Diary Of Alicia Keys (2003 UK 16-track CD album including the singles You Dont Know My Name If I Aint Got You and Diary [featuring Tony! Toni! Ton?!] with additional guest appearances by Nas & Rakim on Streets Of New York)
Whereas Alicia Keys's debut was in essence a musical overview that recorded snapshots of her life over the five years it took to complete, her follow up, The Diary Of , is the scribbled footnotes of the very busy two years since. She's certainly kept tabs on what's been going on--the old-skool R&B influences so evident on her debut have become overshadowed by the kind of people she previously stood apart from.
Witness "Karma"; with its harsh beats, undulating background string section and funky, slightly dirty groove, it could easily be a Justin Timberlake song, as could the Timberland-produced "Heartburn". She plays it safe on "If I Ain't Got You" and "Diary" though, and there is still much to enjoy that can directly be attributed to her oft-mentioned classical training and childhood influences.
It's also easy to forget what an amazing voice she has, best demonstrated here on "If I Was Your Woman". And for all her fancy ivory work, remember that it was the simplicity of "Falling's" descending piano line that sent her career into the ionosphere. There is nothing like that here, just the painful noise of Nas and Rankin contributing to "Streets Of New York".
The Diary Of is neither one thing nor the other. A curious mix of slick modern R&B tinged with influences from the past (often sampled ones) and her own more traditionally arranged soul. If she'd put all her energy into completely modernising her sound then she could easily rival Beyoncé. Instead she's imitated the past and copied the present--if she'd looked to the future then perhaps her true talent could have been fully realised. --Cortman VirtueSee all Product description
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Given the single, and given the CD cover, I had been expecting Alicia's piano to be given greater prominence in the mix, such as it is. Is it just me, or has the production of this album been a deliberately low-tech AM-friendly affair? The melody of the single harks back to Marvin Gaye's classic 'What's Going on?', and the production seems equally muffled. Another example: on track #10, 'So Simple', Alicia has added some prerequisite scratching, which has been done a thousand times since Madonna's 'Erotica'.
Alicia's band is pretty small. There does not seem to be a drummer -- despite the frequent appearance of drums on most tracks -- so we must assume that drums come courtesy of 'digital programming'. This music is far more cerebral than Beyonce, who also uses a tiny musical team. Neither, to my ear, quite approaches the standard set by Jimmy Jam / Terry Lewis for Alexander O'Neal's 'Hearsay'.
But this is a great album to end 2003 on.
It's a rare thing, and it still comes out in her music - the frantic violins of 'Karma', the piano arpeggios of Harlem's Nocturne' and the dreamy, filmic theme of 'Nobody Not Really'.
She is also in touch with the classics of soul, so there is more than a hint of Stevie Wonder to her writing.
If anything, 'The Diary Of..' is a little bit more knowing about urban styles than the breathtaking debut 'Songs In A Minor'. There is more of a hip-hop undercurrent, and there's more work for your sub-woofers to do.
It's in the shadow of it's predecessor, the 5-star debut 'Songs In A Minor', in my humble opinion, but it's still a 4-star wonder, which makes you hope that Keys will not be squeezed into the destiny of just another hip hop soul singer in a crowded marketplace.
Great voice, great pianist, great album. Great!
I am trying to think of a word that could possibly sum up how absolutely brilliant it is. Every song is worthy of it's place and every lyric is worthy of wordsworth.
Harlems nocturne: 10/10
a much more inventive intro than that on Songs in A minor. The first thirty seconds you hear pure genius of piano playing and from then on you get some great thought provoking lyrics. great.
This was a song i heard when i was in the store buying her album. i didn't know it was her song, how could I/ but after a few seconds of listening to it in the store, i knew who i was listening to. a quite brilliant up tempo song, with a great catchy chorus.
one of my favourite songs she has ever done. so sassy and amazing. The drum beat that introduces it makes you bob your head to the beat. such an infectious song. you will be singing it for weeks.
If I Was Your Woman/Walk On By: 10/10
Gladys knight first sung this and i adored the song. now if it is possible i love it even more. Alicia keys brings something refreshing and new to this song. little changes just make this song unforgettable.
You Don't Know My Name: 10/10
surprised for ut to be the first single? I was. but after hearing on the radio, i can totaly understand why she did it. another of my favourites. especially as my name is michael, and in the spoken part of the song, she calls out my name. love it.
If I Ain't Got You: 10/10
The best song I have ever heard from anyone. That is saying something isn't it. Well what else can i say about it. from the piano intro to the soulful, soulful voice and quite remarkable lyrics "hand me the world on a silver platter and what good would it be" this song is like no other and definitely the stand out song.
my second favourite. some non fans of alicia say that they don't like this song, as it is so slow. the lyrics the vioce the simple tuhne make this song another unforgetable tune. you are caught in a hypnotic state right up until the last hits of the piano. A great song.
Dragon days: 10/10
i think of this album in two halfs. and i think of this song as the one that starts the second half of great beats and guitars. this is an inventive track and one of the best. with great word play and an amazing chorus.
wake up: 10/10
another amazong song with such thoughful lyrics, a great heartfelt voice, which really thinks about what she is saying.
a great chorus and verse.
so simple: 10/10
one of the wierdest songs i have in my collection. my mum laughed the first time she heard it. it is now her favourite song. when you hear it you will think what has she done. but my god does it work so well you nearly want to cry. if her normal voice had been used then the impact would have vanished and the song would have become nowhere near the level it is at, at the moment. it just shows how much she thinks about hewr music. truly magic.
When you really love someone: 10/10
another of my favourites. people say it sounds alot like fallin. where did you get that from. just becasue there is a piano intor, which is nothing like fallin. i play the piano and if you knew the notes she plays the formation is nothing like uit, and most of all sounds nothing like it. her voice is so cool on this and her ad libing (did i put that right) is second to none.
Feeling u feeling me: 9/10
not my favourite song on the album. mearly because i am selfish and want to hear her voice all the time. no seriously. i love this song and it's would keep anyone warm on the coldest of nights
slow down: 10/10
love it love it love it
i really like this song, especially the third verse when she talks about her own situations "and i know what is best cause i've been there before. give myself to someone for all the wrong reasons" her voice sounds so sad but strong.
samsonite man: 10/10
alot of people didn't like this song. what were they talkin about. such a catchy chrous and such sound lyrics. what is wrong with it. nothing, that's what.
nobody not really: 10/10
is this an interlude or not, i'm not sure. whatever it is, it's a great way to end. the piano at the start really set of the coll tone and then you are hit with powerful lyrics. i actually heard her talk about this song. she said it was nothing to do with her, it was actually about two little boys she saw in an airport. and she felt like that was them, so she wrote the song.
what else can i say she scored a total of 149/150
a truly remarkable album, just one notch of a perfect score. i'm sure the next album will put that right.
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