Alicia Keys’ sixth studio album, “Here,” features the most substantial music she’s created yet. While her previous albums have all been made up of good songs, what sets “Here” apart is how unapologetically raw it is. Every song has a meaning that isn’t hidden by metaphors or watered down by complex instrumentals. The spoken word buildup of the “Intro” is met with the anthemic vibe of “The Gospel” which is met with calculating negro spiritual-esque “Pawn It All,” and so on.
Keys presents her truth with no filter, and the honesty gives the album a flow like one long story. Although “Here” maintains a high quality throughout, some songs still rise above the rest, such as the aforementioned “Pawn It All,” which utilizes Keys’ signature piano and impressive vocal range. “Illusion of Bliss” shows Keys go to an emotional place she’s never exposed, complete with a cracking voice. “More Than You Know” emulates Keys’ older work, giving a vibe of familiarity that somehow feels fresh. “She Don’t Really Care_1Luv” has the power to calm you down and make you think at the same time. These tracks and all others are complex and unique, and yet somehow they fit together like pieces of a simple, 45 minute puzzle.
The album is captivating and refreshing, deviating from the pop R&B genre while still giving us the Alicia Keys we’re used to. Keys’ career has been one of consistent high quality music and experimentation, but this project will definitely be hard to top.