2001 album from the R&B/Pop singer/songwriter. Songs In A Minor sold more than 12 million albums worldwide and garnered Keys with her first five Grammy Awards including Best New Artist, Best Song of the Year for 'Fallin', and Best R&B Album.
In the crowded world of female R&B you need a unique selling point. Songs in A Minor
's creator Alicia Keys is no different. She plays the piano. She's classically trained. She was a child prodigy. And at 20 years she's incredibly soulful, harking back to the old-skool R&B of Aretha Franklin
and even further to that of Nina Simone
, with a very strong dose of James Brown
thrown in (the fantastic "Fallin'" is a dead ringer for "It's a Man's World"). This retro-ism is further reinforced in her collaboration with 70s soul legend Isaac Hayes
on "Rock Wit U". However this reliance on strong historical figures is as much a problem as an asset. In truth this fine talent is being plucked too early. At 20 she's hardly lived enough life to find herself. While she's got a great voice and exquisite musical skills this album lacks the type of individuality that shines so strongly in artists such as Erykah Badu
, Jill Scott
. This is perhaps why Keys (surely an invented name) has been well hooked up. Jermaine Dupri, Prince and Brian McKnight are all involved in the song writing process. There's a lot of classically trained artists out there, from R Kelly
to MJ Cole, but as this shows it's no guarantee of success. There are a few tracks on Songs...
that hit the right chord but there's some bum notes too. --Jake Barnes