"Girl on Fire," Alicia Keys. RCA Records.
Alicia Keys has a formula for creating records. She begins with a classic, soulful piano number, such as the use of "De Novo Adagio" to introduce her newest album, "Girl on Fire."
From there she moves through the tracks, inserting one or two chart-topping hits that will grace the R&B radio waves for years and make appearances on "Best of" lists. This album has "Girl on Fire," a powerful song celebrating the success of women and motivating the girls who don't yet know their capabilities.
"Girl on Fire" carries a maturity, however, that her previous albums lacked. Since "The Element of Freedom," she has become a wife and mother. Her toddler son, Egypt, also appears on the album, closing "When It's All Over" in a cute conversation with Keys.
If there is a low point to be mentioned in the album, it is perhaps "The Fire We Make," which appears directly after the title track. I can imagine the difficulty, however, in following after such an anthem.
Key's voice is better than ever, showcasing both her silky tones and hip-hop swagger. A native New Yorker, her voice reflects the grace and attitude almost inevitable for the city.
"Girl on Fire" may not have many hits on Top 40 radio. But the album signifies a turning point in Keys' career, and I can't wait to here more.