Alicia Keys: Girl on Fire

Posted February 22, 2013 by in r&b



3/ 5


Producer: , , , , , , ,
Genre: r&b
Producer: Jeff Bhasker, Antonio Dixon, Dr. Dre, James Ho, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Alicia Keys, Ann Mincieli, Salaam Remi, Jamie Smith, Swizz Beatz, Andrew "Pop" Wansel, Babyface
Label: RCA
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 53:08
Release Date: 26 November 2013
Spin This: "Fire We Make," "Brand New Me," "Tears Always Win"


Piano balladry consistent with Alicia's strong points - a return to norm


Where's the uptempo track? Where's the fire? Where's the epic arena anthem?

An improvement over the last episode, Girl on Fire doesn’t exactly bear the fire it advertises

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

An improvement over the last episode, Girl on Fire doesn’t exactly bear the fire it advertises

Five albums deep into her craft, Alicia Keys has showered her generation with an incredible library of hits. And that’s really surprising coming from a diva that broke out after the post-Whitney age. Give credit where it’s due: Keys is a songwriter and a mesmeric pianist with a heart for melody and catchy hooks. It’s no real surprise that her soulful piano-primed R&B, songs like “Fallin” and “If It Ain’t You,” usually finds its way crossing over to pop radio.

With Girl on Fire, she continues her trajectory of artistry expansion by co-writing mostly each of its selections while avoiding some of the careless mistakes of her last record, The Element of Freedom. First, the opening tunes are a bit more memorable, even though she settles for Robert Flack piano workouts over uptempos: “Brand New Me” proves self-empowerment is the best path to rattle a jilted lover’s heart; the Rodney Jenkins-produced “Listen to Your Heart” sounds like an acid jazz track trapped in a dreamy vortex. As the album marches onward, the album never loses its cool, even if she meddles too much with the popular fad of alt-and-b. Bruno Mars turns loose a mighty “Tears Always Win,” a song that would’ve felt out of place on his own albums but feels just right on her, as her Hell’s Kitchen spunk makes the sale: “These lips are missing you/Cause these lips ain’t kissing you/These eyes put up a fight/But once again these tears always win.” Her duet with Maxwell on “Fire We Make,” which follows the Nicki Minaj-guested title track, reminds us of the retro soul she conjured on Diary of Alicia Keys. This time, she uses Al Green’s “Simply Beautiful” as the sole inspiration without recklessly sampling it. The Frank Ocean-penned “One Thing” and the piano epic “101,” both trapped on the back burner of the disc, are also deserving of attention.

Girl on Fire still has its share of filler; “When It’s All Over” is a chaotically assembled tune that sounds like it’s been hijacked by the cast of Stomp. Still the disc isn’t overloaded with filler. What hinders the album from soaring to the rafters of R&B heaven is the absence of that signature standout, something totally deserving of arena magnificence. She tries to turn “New Day” into one, but the “hey hey/ho” and “yay/da-a-a-ay” chants are clearly subpar to “No One.”


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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