Alicia Keys
Here
RCA

“Divided by difference, sexuality and skin / We can hate each other and fear each other / We can build these walls between each other,” Alicia Keys sings on Holy War, one of the many highlights of the American singer-songwriter’s sixth album, Here. The song’s simple acoustic melody and sporadic crashing drums highlight the protest anthem’s heartfelt lyrics at a time that couldn’t be more appropriate, with her nation falling under the control of the tangerine tormentor. On the follow-up to 2012’s Girl on Fire, Keys sounds raw and powerful, particularly on the bluesy The Gospel, the many socially conscious meditations adding a fresh, gritty layer to the pianist’s classical training. But its not all doom and gloom – there’s plenty of hope among the bare-boned soul. Lead single Blended Family (What You Do for Love), featuring A$AP Rocky, draws on positive experiences she’s had with her husband’s children from his previous marriage, while on Girl Can’t Be Herself, Keys simply asks: “Who says I must conceal what I’m made of?” On this evidence, hopefully no one.