At the time when R&B music was arguably at its peak in the mid-2000s there was no other female artist as consistent as Alicia Keys. This week’s From The Vault selection, ‘Diary’, demonstrates the key (no pun intended) elements of her success during that era – soulful vocals, true musicianship and superb songwriting.
This live version of the track was filmed during Keys’ set on ‘MTV Unplugged’ and released as part of her ‘Unplugged’ on album on October 7th 2005. The collection set records on the Billboard 200 by becoming the 1st ‘Unplugged’ album by a female artist to debut at #1.
Watching this performance is a bittersweet experience. It depicts a time in Keys’ career when she was still relatively new to the industry and her sound was unique as well as quite refreshing. Today, however, her music is far less impressive as she has become rather redundant in her persistent quest to emulate the R&B/Jazz sounds of her idols, Sade, and make it her own.
Perhaps motherhood will inspire Keys to refocus her artistry and strive toward reviving the refreshing elements of her early career. Maybe that will help her to have both successful singles and albums instead of just the latter.