No Slump for Keys’ Sophomore Release
The sophomore slump can be a curse for any artist who achieves wild success with a breakout debut. Was the debut a fluke or do these artists really have something to offer? Alicia Keys doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t have to worry. The Diary of Alicia Keys is the follow-up to her multiple Grammy-winning debut, Songs in A Minor. Not only does Keys succeed, but she creates a more diverse and captivating collection of songs than found in A Minor.
As before, Keys pays tribute to her classical roots with the opening â€šÃ„ÃºHarlem Nocturne,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a mix of lush piano and hip hop beats. She then breaks into two tracks that are more BeyoncâˆšÂ© than Beethoven, â€šÃ„ÃºKarmaâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºHeartburnâ€šÃ„Ã¹. Both energetic and sharp with slick rhythms and staccato beats, the songs set a bolder and stronger tone for the album and Keys as an artist. She continues to pepper the album with these assertive songs and they are easily the most memorable and infectious of the album.
She does satisfy her R&B side with slower, if not occasionally tepid and tedious songs like â€šÃ„ÃºSlow Down,â€šÃ„Ã¹and “If I Ainâ€šÃ„Ã´t Got You.â€šÃ„Ã¹ There are also occasional moments of lyrical inadequacy, as there were in A Minor, but a line such as “Like the desert needs water / I need you a lot” in “Dragon Days” is easily forgiven when cushioned by the soulful groove of the track. Songs like â€šÃ„ÃºDiary,â€šÃ„Ã¹ the soft stand-out ballad of the album, and â€šÃ„ÃºSo Simple,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a musically uncomplicated track that showcases Keysâ€šÃ„Ã´ finely textured vocals, reassure the listener that her talent is no fluke.