Songs in A Minor

Alicia Keys makes it look so easy on her debut.

Alicia Keys makes it look so easy on her debut. Mixing bits of contemporary R&B, hip-hop, and classic soul, the native New Yorker leaves few genres unturned on Songs in A Minor. Unlike her contemporaries, Keys chooses to keep things mellow while tackling serious issues well beyond her 20 years. "Fallin'," the album's first single, displays both the sheer power of Key's voice and her remarkable skill on the ivories. Keys is equally strong when she tackles Prince's "How Come You Don't Call Me . . . " Covering an artist of such caliber is no small feat, for sure, but Keys ably makes the song her own while still paying homage to its creator. On the Caribbean-flavored "Mr. Man," the singer/songwriter teams with labelmate Jimmy Cozier; the result is a smooth-sailing, hip-swaying summer jam, with the two newcomers complementing each other wonderfully, trading verses like veterans.—RH