Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews: Week of Dec. 17, 2021

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Welcome to the last 2021 edition of “Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews.” (Bitmoji property of Jake’s Take)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Welcome to the final Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews of 2021!! Thank you so much to everyone who has read any of our 2021 music reviews! For the artists and publicists that took time out of their schedules to share my reviews on social media, “Thank you so much!” Without further ado, for the last time in 2021…let’s get this party started! 

Alicia Keys’ KEYS showcases two musical sides of the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. (Album cover property of RCA Records)

Keys by Alicia Keys 

15-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys dropped her eighth studio album: Keys. The “Underdog” singer-songwriter’s latest record is divided into two parts: Originals and Unlocked. The Originals side of the album focuses on Ms. Keys’ signature sound, while the Unlocked side offers a new musical side to the “If I Ain’t Got You” performer. While she was heavily involved in producing the Originals side of Keys, she handed responsibilities off to superstar producer Mike Will Make It for Unlocked. The Atlanta, Georgia native transformed the Unlocked portion of Keys into an EDM, hip-hop, and R&B hybrid. There were several bright moments on both albums, including collaborations with Brandi Carlile (“Paper Flowers (Originals)”) and the Khalid + Lucky Daye-supported “Come for Me (Unlocked).” It is tough to insert duality into one album, but I believe that Ms. Keys and her production team pulled off this task. A- 

Tracks to Download: “Best of Me (Originals),” “Love When You Call My Name (Originals),” “Paper Flowers (Originals),” “Come For Me (Unlocked),” & “Nat King Cole (Unlocked).”

Actor-singer Darren Criss released his first holiday music album: A Very Darren Crissmas. (Album cover property of UMG Recordings)

A Very Darren Crissmas by Darren Criss 

Actor-singer Darren Criss dropped his first-holiday album: A Very Darren Crissmas. Many music enthusiasts might bring up Darren channeled his inner Michael Buble and Seth MacFarlane as he recorded the album. The American Crime Story and Glee actor and his production team did a phenomenal job with the arrangement process of the album. I honestly was in awe with his interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Also, keep an ear out for Darren’s all-star group of collaborators, including Adam Lambert (“(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man with the Bag),” Evan Rachel Wood (“Somewhere in My Memory”), Lainey Wilson (“Drunk on Christmas”), and Lizzy McAlpine (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”). What a superb holiday album, Darren! B

Tracks to Download: “Christmas Dance,” “(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag,”
“River,” & “Somewhere in My Memory.”

Jewel dropped an album full of her Masked Singer performances. (Album cover property of Words Matter Media)

Queen of Hearts by Jewel 

Fresh off winning The Masked Singer: Season Six, Jewel dropped her thirteenth studio album: Queen of Hearts. The seven-song collection showcases how her impeccable vocal range won the show. I hope that Jewel inspires other performers to drop studio versions of their Masked Singer performances onto various streaming platforms. A- 

Tracks to Download: “Born This Way,” “La Vie En Rose,” “River,” & “Bird Set Free.”

Khalid’s Scenic Drive (The Tape) marks the “Location” singer’s first mixed tape. (Album cover property of RCA Records)

Scenic Drive (The Tape) by Khalid

On Friday, December 3, Khalid dropped his first mixtape: Scenic Drive. The “Location” singer-songwriter’s latest project features nine tracks that feature nine unique R&B and hip-hop artists that arrange from the iconic Alicia Keys to rising stars Ari Lennox, JID, and Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan. Despite Scenic Drive’s length, the mixtape does contain countless powerful tracks such as “Present,” “Backseat,” and “Retrograde.” B+ 

Tracks to Download: “Present,” “Backseat,” “Retrograde,” & “Scenic Drive.”

Monsta X’s first album with BMG Rights Management continues to deliver the heat.

The Dreaming by Monsta X 

K-pop boyband Monsta X dropped their second English-language album! The Dreaming marks the group’s first album on BMG Rights Management (US). As I listened to the album, it brought me back to the first time I heard Backstreet Boys’ Millennium and NSYNC’s No Strings Attached. Like those two albums, I honestly think that The Dreaming will make a lasting impact on the pop music genre. A

Tracks to Download: “You Problem,” “Tied to Your Body,” “Whispers in the Dark,” “Secrets,” & “About Last Night.”

“Little Things” by ABBA

The legendary pop group ABBA dropped their first-holiday single in their celebrated careers. The track, “Little Things,” was featured on their final studio album: Voyage. The song will give listeners chills and is a splendid holiday song. 

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Jennifer Hudson

Grammy and Oscar-winning singer Jennifer Hudson tackled one of the most iconic holiday tunes of them all: Darlene Love’s iconic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”  I love Jennifer Hudson as a vocalist, but the cover is not as memorable as Darlene’s. C/C+

Head over to the second page for the final Jake’s Take’s Artists to Watch of 2021!

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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar