Using a mild piano melody as a canvas, singer Alexis Keegan gently applies colorful verses that will paint us a brooding picture of her emotions in the all-new single “What Am I Supposed to Do,” which debuts this April 19th. Her vocal extends its warm reach through our stereo speakers without ever breaking an even stride with the glowing keys behind it, and long before the track has reached the halfway mark, she’s captured the attention of anyone within earshot of these stirring, heavenly harmonies. “What Am I Supposed to Do” sees Keegan blending her old school charm with her smooth and sophisticated cosmopolitan edge, yielding results that are best described as supple, sensuous and steeped in jazz as much as they are modern R&B.
This song utilizes a really relaxed tempo from start to finish, but there’s an implied urgency in the arrangement of the instruments that adds a little bit of contrast to an otherwise familiar collection of beats. Keegan is approaching the mic with a lot of moxie and swagger, but she never comes off as arrogant; her persistently agile style of attack in “What Am I Supposed to Do” is met with a somber elegance in the percussion framing the vocal track, and furthermore, an angular, groove-driven piano part that is as expressive as any of the lyrics are on their own. It’s multidimensional for sure, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is the most complicated single that Keegan has recorded to date – though it comes pretty close.
The harmony between Keegan and the backing band here is absolutely brilliant, and in my opinion, renders just as emotional a reaction in listeners as the vocal would without an accompanying instrumental track. There’s a couple of spots where it becomes slightly difficult to tell where the origin-point of one melody ends and another begins, but this isn’t due to a muddied master mix at all; actually, quite the contrary. When Alexis Keegan is operating at full creative capacity, her vocal tends to become so entwined in whatever music happens to be backing it that all of the elements involved end up becoming a singular force of nature that is next to impossible to slow down once it’s gotten started.
R&B, pop and especially jazz fans will want to take a look at this inspired young woman’s work this April, and I must say that while I’ve heard quite a few interesting songs from all three genres this season, this is definitely among the more memorable ones. Alexis Keegan has an amazing voice, and she’s using it excellently in this setting, making a listening experience that isn’t just evocative on multiple artistic levels, but is in fact quite provocative in its stylization. She’s got the kind of talent that a lot of her peers desperately try to rehearse into reality but that few will ever approach in actuality, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s setting a high standard for future releases in the incredibly emotional single that is “What Am I Supposed to Do.”
Photo by Merideth Carlson