Amid new ventures in film and television, Alicia Keys is writing new material for her third studio album. Though she has yet to record any tracks, the singer is looking to experiment and expand her musical style this time around.
“I definitely see the album being a little bit edgier,” Keys tells Billboard.com. “I feel like it’s going to have a lot of political elements to it as well and be a bit more guitar-driven. The sound is definitely going to be different, but obviously the heart and soul of it is always going to remain consistent.”
Keys’ next album will be her fourth for J and the follow-up to her 2005 live set, “Unplugged,” which has sold more than 1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her 2004 sophomore effort, “Diary of Alicia Keys,” has sold 4.4 million to date.
On “Unplugged,” Keys collaborated with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine on a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” and on the new album, she is hoping to work with more acts outside the R&B and hip-hop worlds. “I’d love to do some writing with John Mayer,” she says. I think that as a songwriter, he’s very thought-provoking.”
“I’d also like to do something that’s really out there, with like Queens Of The Stone Age or White Stripes, something just strange as hell, unexpected and interesting,” she adds. “I always like to collaborate with one or two special folks that just take it to a new place. I have a lot of strange ideas and brainstorms.”
Keys recently recorded three songs, including the title cut and a cover of the Impressions’ “People Get Ready” with Lyfe Jennings, for the soundtrack to “Glory Road.” The film chronicles the 1966 Texas Western men’s basketball team, which featured the first all-African American starting lineup.
“Even though I was telling myself I wasn’t going to commit to anything because I wanted to take some time off, I was so moved by [the movie] and I really wanted to be involved,” says Keys. “Beyond color, beyond being a black or white thing, it was just a human story about struggle and about overcoming when it seems the toughest.”
On the production front, Keys is continuing to scout and develop talent with her business partner, songwriter/producer Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, for their company, KrucialKeys. As previously reported, Brothers is working on his own solo rap debut. “It’s all about bringing forth new artists and young artists that are fresh and have something to offer,” says Keys. “A lot of positive and wonderful experiences are coming up in the future.”