Review Summary: Girl on Fire is uneven, and its main blemish is its inconsistency, but Alicia Keys is still as ravishing on the keys and in her vocals as ever.
Alicia Keys' fifth album Girl on Fire
may arrive after her marriage to producer/rapper Swizz Beatz and the subsequent birth of her first child, but she isn’t exactly the “Brand New Me” that the album’s second track proclaims. Lyrically, Keys spends most of Girl on Fire
in her usual comfort zone, tackling topics of love both lost and gained, but even while her choice in themes may not change too much, what also thankfully stays the same is Keys' bold and defiant voice of passion, and raw talent on piano that puts her above the countless other female singer/songwriters whose relationships serve as their main source of inspiration.
Indeed, Keys is just as much of the intoxicating diva on Girl on Fire
as she continously proves to be time and time again. Five albums into her career, and the remarkable range of her melodies is as impressive as on her past outings, and still virtually unmatched by her R&B diva contemporaries. The difference this time around being that her attitude is appropriately accompanied with a dash of heat. Keys' Lavish piano structures primary focus is being smooth and soulful for a majority of the album, but room is also made for streaks of spunky jazz to get the blood pumping after the various downtempo sessions.
Girl on Fire
is an album that mainly benefits as a collaborative effort. Keys teams up with a diverse and broad collection of artists to contribute their unique flavors into the mix, and so many new and differing ideas certainly aids the album in variety, but on the flipside, that doesn’t favor consistency all too much with its wide range of many different elements. With Nicki Minaj’s audacious and suitably blazing but still painfully out of place rapping on the “Inferno Version” of “Girl on Fire”, the seductively electric foundation laid by Jamie xx’s production on “When It’s All Over”, the proud and brazen hip hop strut of Dr. Dre and Sizz Beatz beats on “New Day”, the intimate and show-stealing golden age R&B throwback croons from Maxwell on “Fire We Make”, and the utter dominance of John Legend on both “Listen to Your Heart” and “When It’s All Over”, the spotlight of interest is definitely lifted off of Alicia Keys herself on her own album much too frequently, and the concentration of interest is directed at the new and unique aspects of her tracks instead of the women of the hour.
Even if there are copious amounts of areas on the album that can be more attention-grabbing than Keys herself, she’s anything but in the background, and her impeccable talent and suave characteristics haven’t weakened a bit, and show that this girl on fire isn’t burning out any time soon.