J Records – 2001 – 63 minutes

With her debut currently lodged at the top of the US album charts, 20-year-old New Yorker Alicia Keys is the latest to wear the sassy diva crown. But while her present suggests over priced videos and countless soundtrack appearances, the future could be far more interesting and complex.

Keys has been playing the piano since single figures and writing songs since 13, and despite the presence of eight other writers her standalone talent really shines thorough on 'Songs...'. Granted it's 20 minutes too long and the production is way too clinical, but her cover of the Prince B-side 'Why Don't You Call Me' is sublime, she has the R 'n' B track the year in 'Girlfriend' and both 'Butteflyz' and 'Caged Bird' show she can do down-in-the-dumps with best of them. One to watch – and more importantly listen to.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Piano & I – Girlfriend – How Come You Don't Call Me – Fallin' – Troubles – Rock Wit U – A Woman's Worth – Jane Doe – Goodbye – The Life – Mr Man – Never Felt This Way – Butterflyz – Why Do I Feel So Sad – Caged Bird