Brand New Me
Label: RCA RECORDS LABEL
Despite being a 31-year-old mother and wife (to Swizz Beats, who coproduces "New Day" with Dr. Dre), Alicia Keys still acts like she's the prodigy who made Songs in A Minor a decade ago. She's a woman that calls herself a "girl on fire" trying to realize her talent, and she uses that ideal to build this mostly successful album of experiments, from Jamie xx's ambient R&B on "When It's All Over" to Pop & Oak's dancehall riddim on "Limitedless." The vision breaks when she plays with her son Egypt at the end of "Brand New Me" -- it's a brief moment, but it's a sign that she's not a girl anymore.