July 09, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s obvious why Keys, a 20 year old, piano playing neosoulster, was handpicked by Clive Davis for his new label. Her influences — Aretha, Mayfield, Wonder, ’80s Jacko — are evident and impeccable on Songs in A Minor. And as a multitasking singer – songwriter – coproducer, she provides plenty of excitement, from the gospel fervor of lovesick righteousness on ”Fallin,” to her Princely funk of ”How Come You Don’t Call Me.” Though the second half slackens with sad sack teen themes, ”Songs” is a debut full of promise.

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