Alicia Keys

Songs in A Minor

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Alicia Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, made a significant impact upon its release in the summer of 2001, catapulting the young singer/songwriter to the front of the neo-soul pack. Critics and audiences were captivated by a 19-year-old singer whose taste and influences ran back further than her years, encompassing everything from Prince to smooth '70s soul, even a little Billie Holiday. In retrospect, it was the idea of Alicia Keys that was as attractive as the record, since soul fans were hungering for a singer/songwriter who seemed part of the tradition without being as spacy as Macy Gray or as hippie mystic as Erykah Badu while being more reliable than Lauryn Hill. Keys was all that, and she had style to spare -- elegant, sexy style accentuated by how she never oversang, giving the music a richer feel. It was rich enough to compensate for some thinness in the writing -- though it was a big hit, "Fallin'" doesn't have much body to it -- which is a testament to Keys' skills as a musician. And, the fact is, even though there are some slips in the writing, there aren't many, and the whole thing remains a startling assured, successful debut that deserved its immediate acclaim and is already aging nicely.

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