CD review: Alicia Keys’ ‘Girl on Fire’


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Alicia Keys
Girl on Fire
Two and a half stars

Pitched somewhere between the nightclub and the coffeehouse, Alicia Keys’ fifth album, Girl on Fire, manages to capture some of the dullest aspects of both. Keys is a strong singer and can be a capable songwriter (she’s aided here by talents including Dr. Dre, Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars and her husband Swizz Beatz), but most of Girl sounds lethargic and warmed-over. Keys isn’t (and probably shouldn’t be) fully committed to competing with people like Beyoncé and Rihanna, so beat-oriented songs like “New Day” and “Limitedless” come off as awkward. But the album’s sedate piano ballads are equally uninspired, with generic lyrics and weak hooks (the Babyface-produced “That’s When I Knew” sounds like a ’90s leftover). The excellent “Tears Always Win” brings together modern-sounding beats with a bright, classic R&B feel, perfectly balancing Keys’ retro sensibilities with a more current approach, but it’s the sole unqualified success on an otherwise muddled album.


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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