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Photograph: Richard Isaac/REX/ShutterstockAlicia Keys performing in London in September

EXCLUSIVE: Alicia Keys is playing a surprise NYC show October 9 (plus, here’s a sneak peek of her new album)

Written by
Tim Lowery

In our cover story on Alicia Keys (you can pick up your copy tomorrow), we're lucky enough to exclusively announce that the venerable New York songwriter plans to play a big secret show on her home turf on October 9. (In town, she’s also performing during the Tidal X concert at Barclays Center on October 15, as well as at the Black Ball charity event at Hammerstein Ballroom on October 19.) Details on the location of the hush-hush gig are staying, well, hush-hush, but we’ll be sure to update you with 'em as soon as we can.

The writer of the feature, Eve Barlow, was also allowed to listen to a few tracks form Keys’s upcoming LP. Here are Barlow’s first impressions of a few yet-to-be-titled tracks:

The feminist one
This is a soulful take from a woman’s point of view, speaking to “queens” worldwide in Brooklyn, Harlem, the Bronx, Somalia, Cairo, the U.K. and beyond. It’s a commentary on how women all seek the same thing no matter where they’re from. Keys sings, “She don’t really care, she want diamonds in her ears.”

The political one
With an opening picked on acoustic guitar, this song presents a world in which we value war and consider love obscene, encourage each other to hate and are divided by difference: “We’ve got it twisted in this lucid dream,” Keys notes. By the next verse, she untwists it: “What if sex was holy and war was obscene? What a wonderful dream.”

The social-commentary one
Keys recalls The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and references Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” on one ferocious piano-led gospel cut, drawing scenes of modern life with lines like, “We all got children, products of the ghetto, mama cooked the food, daddy did the yellin’.… Don’t blame me, I’m just giving the facts / If you ain’t in the battle, how you gon’ win the fight?”

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