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As I Am by Alicia Keys
Released: Nov 2007
Label: J Records
Keys is undeniably a major talent, but her albums have intermittently suffered from insipid lyricism and a certain -- we hate to say it -- mediocrity when your ears stray from the hits. Sounds like she's on the way to correcting that: As I Am delivers as solid a slice of timeless soul as we've ever heard from her. And we mean soul music: nothing stands between Keys and the mic -- no tricks, no overdubs -- while the emotional messages and organic music find a synchronicity that, at its best, brings you not just closer to Keys but to yourself. "Lesson Learned" and "The Thing About Love" stand out.
Sarah Bardeen