On THE DIARY OF ALICIA KEYS, the classically trained vocalist/pianist follows up the success of her lauded debut by displaying an even more formidable knack for sophisticated soul. The elegant piano intro of "Harlem's Nocturne" quickly gives way to a driving beat and Keys' admission that "there are so many things that are on my mind." This sentiment proves true, as Keys proceeds to run through a wide range of musical styles, from string-laden R&B on "Karma" to Timbaland-produced funk on "Heartburn" to a potent soul-pop medley of "If I Was Your Woman/Walk On By."
Keys' personal touch on DIARY extends to her role as producer on many of the album's tracks, including the sultry, show-stopping "If I Ain't Got You" and the haunting "Diary" (featuring Tony! Toni! Tone!). As this confident sophomore album reveals, SONGS IN A MINOR was no fluke. In fact, DIARY shows Keys just starting to hit her musical stride.
Rolling Stone (12/25/03-1/8/04, p.124) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...An assured, adult statement, steeped in the complicated love life and musical dreams of an ambitious young woman who has absorbed enough Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin records to live up to [her] soul promise..."
Entertainment Weekly (12/5/03, pp.94-5) - "...[The album features] some of Keys' liveliest music..." - Rating: B
Q (1/04, p.111) - 4 stars out of 5 - "It's a proper soul album which hooks you with the first pneumatic beat and draws you deeper with every heady atmosphere and vivid emotion."