Neo-soul singer is still aflame

Karly Cox
Karly Cox |

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Alicia Key's fifth studio release Girl on Fire is a glorious set of powerful ballads, empowering lyrics and catchy upbeat melodies, with contributions from some of the hottest artists of the moment, like Emili Sande and Frank Ocean.

The title track is in the mould of her 2008 track Superwoman, but less anthemic. Happily, this is one of the weaker tracks. Sande's Brand New Me is far more inspirational, celebrating fresh starts.

Tears Always Win is a Motown-infused song that avoids schmaltz with chilled backing vocals and a simple arrangement. Babyface contributes to another chilled track, That's When I Knew, a guitar-led confession of falling in love, on which Keys' strongest vocals are at their strongest.

Not Even the King, about being rich "in love", could've been written and sung by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, herself, with Keys' beautiful breathy voice floating over a simple acoustic piano tune.

Limitedless, with its reggae beat, is maybe unexpected, as is the multi-textured When It's All Over, but whenever Keys lets her hair down, you're in for a treat.

Keys may not try anything very new on Girl, but with heartfelt lyrics, memorable beats and joie de vivre, she proves she's still on fire.

YP Rating: 4/5

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