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CD Review: ALICIA KEYS

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The Deal: Piano songstress returns with mature effort that's steeped in a theme of love – lost and gained.

The Good: Alicia Keys deserves a good amount of credit. Instead of going for a more pop sound that would have appealed to the masses, she sinks deeper into a more heartfelt range. The album's a vocal showcase that lets Keys shine through. Listening all the way through can get repetitive and sleepy at times, but taking it one track at a time, you realize there isn't a weak one in the bunch. John Mayer makes a guest appearance on "Lesson Learned," but takes nothing away from Keys' performance, staying in the background to add some riffs and harmony.

The Bad: "Go Ahead" has a great groove to it, while allowing Keys to belt out some words, but it almost sounded like a Christina Aguilera song. It's a solid pop hit, but is a misleading opener for a more mellow, ballad-heavy album.

The Verdict: It may only be her third album, but Keys shows off her talent without sounding over-produced and remaining grounded.

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