Alicia Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, made a significant impact upon its release in the summer of 2001, catapulting the young singer/songwriter to the front of the neo-soul pack. Critics and audiences were captivated by a 19-year-old singer whose taste and influences ran back further than her years, encompassing everything from Prince to smooth '70s soul, even a little Billie Holiday. In retrospect, it was the idea of Alicia Keys that was as attractive as the record, since soul fans were hungering for a singer/songwriter who seemed part of the tradition without being as spacy as Macy Gray or as hippie mystic as Erykah Badu while being more reliable than Lauryn Hill. Keys was all that, and she had style to spare – elegant, sexy style accentuated by how she never oversang, giving the music a richer feel. It was rich enough to compensate for some thinness in the writing – though it was a big hit, "Fallin'" doesn't have much body to it – which is a testament to Keys' skills as a musician.
As much as The Moody Blues have earned the right to make a mediocre album, they shouldn't have been given the keys to the studio without a better batch of ideas than what ended up on Keys of the Kingdom. Like Sur La Mer three years earlier, many of the songs on here feel like prefabricated studio pop: programmed drum beats, sterile keyboards and soulless guitars pop up in the speakers seemingly untouched by human hands, compounded by brass arrangements and backing singers that were never a part of the Moodies' original vision…
Although Ramsey Lewis gained his initial fame as a jazz pianist, many of his records (including this one) are really more in the R&B field. The soul vocals, acid jazz rhythms and tinkling piano result in superior background music and there are some good moments (such as Grover Washington, Jr.'s soprano on "Sun Goddess 2000") but Ramsey Lewis is capable of much better. A strictly commercial effort that succeeds more as dance music than as creative jazz.
Mouse on the keys are well-known for blurring genres and their forthcoming release Out of Body is no exception, traversing dark and avant-garde electronica, minimalist neo-classical, whilst also continuing to develop on their math-rock tendencies with rapid-fire time signature changes, angular rhythms and melodic yet frenetic piano work. The new record sees mouse on the keys take a darker turn and carries a more sombre atmosphere than that of previous releases, as each track is centered on the macabre theme of near-death experiences.