Stepping away from the beautiful ballads and radio friendly formulas Alicia Keys has adopted a more controversial and grittier approach. “HERE” is the songstresses sixth studio album and her most personal yet. With the change of direction it has allowed Keys to address equality, relationships and her life in a bit more of a pure and less round about way. The concept of equal rights has been explored quite heavily within RNB music this year and with Beyonce and Solange both perfectly delivering this concept I can’t help but comparing the three. “HERE” has it’s moments of pure genius but also lacks impact in the delivery. Her songwriting is so pure and powerful but within the albums long track listing she loses the message. As a body of work it needs to be more refined and structured to smoothly tell the story and paint the images it desperately attempts to. You’re not going to find any radio hits in this collection and that’s okay because tracks like “Blended Family” and “The Gospel” are much stronger than anything she’s ever released before. She delves into addiction, equality, unrealistic beauty standards and the complexity of her family life while bringing back her hip-hop roots and spitting out some truths. Sometimes the songs can be a bit “hippy” overloaded and can come across cliche and thats where a more refined tracklisting would help minimise that. I do have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that this album lacked a emotional piano pop ballad because that’s what she’s always excelled at. But to grow as an artist you can’t hide behind being comfortable and have to take a risk and that’s exactly what she’s done. It may not be the album of the year unlike Beyonce but it’s a damn good attempt.


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