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Alicia Key's New Album Makes Her Personal Here
   2016-12-08 11:09:20    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Wang Ling



Anchor: Hello and welcome to another edition of Music+, where we explore music and more. After 4-years of waiting, the highly anticipated 6th studio album from American singer/songwriter Alicia Keys is finally here. Within this new album as named Here, we see this Grammy award-winner and multiplatinum recording artist being stripped down, free of fuss and with an organic embrace of bareness.

The opening interlude 'The Beginning ' lays Keys' mindset bare for the listener. She sings on the opener "I'm the musical to the project fables/I'm the words scratched out on the record label/I'm the wind when the record spins/I'm the dramatic static before the song begins" before tacking on a cold reminder--"And if you don't let me in/ I'm the shot in the air when the party ends."

The second track 'The Gospel' eases us into a journey that takes the listener on as Keys sing-raps her way through stories of gritty urban life, over a skippy, staccato drumming and gospel choir.
Instead of her usual soulful vocals, Keys raps and poetically spits 'The Gospel's verses, "Now we doing life like Eddie Murphy and Martin, on the chain gang I was singing it to the coffin."
Even paying homage to the 'roaches and rats', Keys emphasizes she's 'here' now, where she's come from.

The song we just heard is 'The Gospel' from Alicia Key's latest release, 'Here'. Seemingly, Keys has been here since her early 2000 Songs in 'A' Minor, earned her five Grammys and an unrivaled stature for a 20-year-old debut artist. But it is indeed with this new album that we meet the real Alicia Keys.
As she says "Gotta speak the truth when I'm up in the booth." Keys barely falters as she shows a more honest and socially conscious side to her songwriting with her new album.
From an early reference to her humble upbringing "in a tenement¡­ listenin' to the hook", Keys doesn't shy away from the personal here. On "Blended Family" she celebrates the complexity of her home life and addresses her stepson directly: "Hey, I might not really be your mother / That don't mean that I don't really love ya."

The track we just heard is 'Blended Family' from Alicia Key's sixth studio album, 'Here'.
At this year's MTV Video Music Awards, Ms. Keys made headlines for walking the red carpet without makeup. For those who had been paying attention, Keys had actually started her no-makeup campaign about a year earlier.
"Girl Can't Be Herself" is a great anthem about Keys' well-publicised decision to forgo makeup. On the track, she's challenged the world that is so rigidly obsessed with seeing women beautified in a specific way. She sings "Maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self esteem." "I'm so secure with insecurities / why is being unique such an impurity?"

As hard as she campaigns on No-makeup, Keys pushes herself to keep up an embrace of bareness with her performance throughout 'Here'.
The rawness of the project is well exemplified on "Illusion of Bliss". The song tells of 29-year-old drug addict who pursues a brighter future to avoid becoming a fallen angel, all the while bitterly aware that could never be reality.
On the track, Key's vocals are raw and affecting. She stripped her voice down to unfiltered basics, and belted so fiercely that she cracks her voice. Yet, her presence and passion are evident from the cracks in her vocals; and the performances here are about passion instead of perfection.

You were just listening to "Illusion of Bliss " fresh off Alicia Keys' latest album, 'Here'. Since its release, the album has received generally positive reviews from critics. Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 76, based on 14 reviews.
Keith Harris, writing for Rolling Stone, described 'Here' as "the sounds New Yorkers overhear blasting from passing cars and seeping from pedestrian earbuds, reimagined as a hectic but coherent symphony."
Nick Levine from NME found that "we've known since she debuted with "Fallin'" in 2001 that Alicia Keys can write songs that sound anthemic. But with Here, it feels as though she's dug deep to produce a set of genuine, heartfelt and relevant anthems.
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney wrote for Financial Times that Here was animated by "politically active music" such as Sam Cooke's 1964 Civil Rights anthem "A Change Is Gonna Come", while noting that her "powerful vocals carry the memory of Lauryn Hill in her prime."
The glam piano-playing pop star audiences met in the 2000s has also become an ambassador for some of the most pressing social and political issues plaguing today's world: global concerns such as the refugee crisis in war torn countries; speaking out about police brutality against black men in the US; and inspiring women by choosing to publicly go make up free.
Bringing together all the important elements Keys embodies, 'Here' is brimming with issues and themes that Keys continues to speak out about.
'More than We know ' is one such political track, where Keys urges the listener to give humanity a hug and to get involved; and in that people can all do 'more than we know'.

As a musician who has been rooting herself deeper in meditation practice, a parent embracing motherhood, and a celebrity increasing her philanthropy, Keys stopped pursuing skin-deep beauty; instead she's been knee-deep in the more artistic, political and socially conscious work, all of which have helped build her insight and depth; and give her an unshakeable confidence to bare her soul to her audience. With 'Here', she's becoming a voice of many, a protester in song, a teacher of empathy, and, above all else, someone who doesn't need to cater to the radio.
To wrap up the show, here is one environment-conscious track on 'Here', 'Kill Your Mama'. Keys weaves in a double meaning with 'mama' also referring to the motherland and addressing humans killing humanity. The singer meditates the pitfalls of fame with her bare vocals paired simply with acoustic guitars.
To revisit our show, log on to our website, Newsplusradio.cn. You can also check the latest releases and tour information on our weibo page; weibo.com/crimusicplus. You can also email us at crimusicplus@qq.com.
Your suggestions and questions are always welcome.
This is Wang Ling saying goodbye from Beijing; hope you can join me again same time next week.


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