The 65m-selling singer-songwriter is back with a uniquely conceived double album, but both its laidback and upbeat sides fall far short of extraordinary

Last month, Alicia Keys gave an interview to a women’s magazine in which she expounded on her life during the pandemic. Anyone who has found it hard to motivate themselves over the past two years – first paralysed by lockdown, then plagued by the sense that there’s no point doing anything given the ongoing state of the world – may be pleased to learn that even 65m-selling singer-songwriters found themselves in a similar pickle. When asked whether all this time at home had fuelled her creativity, she said that wasn’t her experience at all. “I didn’t even know how to work. What was I supposed to work on? Where was I supposed to work? And when? It was so much of making sure everything was organised and the kids were good’.”

But when considering Keys’ hopelessly unproductive pandemic, it’s probably worth noting that some people’s idea of being not knowing how to work involves in front of Netflix while drunkenly balancing a takeaway on their ever-swelling stomach – and some people’s, well, doesn’t. In the time since Covid-19 hit, Alicia Keys has variously released and promoted an autobiography; launched her own “skincare and wellness” brand; recorded and released a collaborative single with Brandi Carlile encouraging voter registration in the US election; promoted a 20th-anniversary edition of her debut album, Songs in A Minor; helmed a 21-day online meditation programme in collaboration with Deepak Chopra; starred in her own YouTube docuseries, Noted, alongside her husband Swizz Beatz (“Episode 3: Me And Swizz Are Holding Nothing Back About Our Love”); appeared in commercials for Mercedes-Benz and US insurance company Allstate; and announced her first graphic novel.

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