Alicia Keys – Songs in A Minor

“I keep on falling in and out of love with you!” sings Alicia Keys. In doing so, thesinger/songwriter also expresses my review in a nutshell. Keys garnered sevenGrammy nominations for her debut “Songs in A Minor,” but is thisquickly found praise warranted, or a music-industry gimmick?

The openingtrack, “Piano & I,” is a silly dedication to the coming songs. Keysdoes little singing on this track, instead humming and psyching herself up forthe following songs. I didn’t find this necessary because on the next track,”Girlfriend,” she introduces herself again. This time the trackincludes the soulful singing we paid $15 to hear.

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If this disk were astory, the climax would occur on track four, the mainstream hit and second-bestsong, “Fallin’.” This has a catchy beat that digs into your eardrumsand never lets go for its three and a half-minutes. After hearing it, I couldn’tshake the chorus from my head – and I love it!

After this song, however,the disk takes a vacation from any exceptional quality; the next five songs aresimilar in sound, with dry lyrics (with the possible exception of “JaneDoe”).

Track eleven is where the fun begins again. Keys sings a duetwith Jimmy Cozier on the song “Mr. Man,” a fun tune with a beat almostas catchy as “Fallin’.” I found myself listening to this song over andover, because from the opening 30 seconds to the closing 10, it is a rollercoaster of enjoyment. The two voices blend so well that I almost wish they were agroup. If the producers are smart, they will get Cozier back for futurerecordings.

The disk closes with the unlisted “Lovin’ U,”possibly the best song I have heard all year. It is jam-packed with inspiration(and background singers chiming “Awoo!”), heart and soul. It almostsounds as if Alicia is singing this song not only for someone she loves, but tothat person. The disk is worth buying just to hear it.

“Minor”contains two kinds of songs. On average CDs, there are the regular, so-so,fill-in-the-minute songs, and then there are the few great ones. The good thingabout this disk is that it replaces the “great” songs with ones thatare truly exceptional. This is definitely worth purchasing if you are a fan ofthe hip-hop scene.

My only complaint is that more songs aren’t as good asher great few. Expect great things from Keys – this CD is her proclamation thatshe is a force to be reckoned with.

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