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NTW Alicia Keys


Alicia Keys, "Girl on Fire"
Our rating: 
Alicia Keys plays well with others: Jay-Z, Usher, and Jack White have all benefited from recording with the R&B star. Yet the guests on her fifth studio full-length, from blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. to Frank Ocean and Bruno Mars, worked primarily behind the scenes. At best, these collaborations push her in new directions, as on "When It's All Over," a knockout concocted with John Legend and Jamie Stewart of the xx that folds angular jazz-funk into a minimalist club groove. Alas, sentimental ballads dampen the record's latter half. "Girl on Fire" smolders and sparks but never quite catches. - Kurt B. Reighley

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