HERE (Deluxe Version)
The R&B singer drops her guard for a powerful blend of the personal and political. Made with an unusually small team (mostly her, her husband Swizz Beats, and producer/songwriters Mark Batson and Harold Lilly), HERE shifts deftly from songs about black experience (“The Gospel”) and societal strife (“Holy War”) to explorations of femininity (“Girl Can’t Be Herself”) and motherhood (“Blended Family”). It’s an album that taps the rich vein of soul and hip-hop that Keys has been working in for 15 years. And like all her best songs—“No One”, “Girl on Fire”, “Falling”—HERE's highlights end up being showcases for Keys’ voice, which conveys uplift and catharsis even in the most dire of circumstances: Just listen to her redeem the heartbroken addict on “Illusion of Bliss”.