Lessons is the latest album from Talia Keys & the Love, and unveils the kaleidoscopic vision of a motivated, inspired artist.

A born leader and dynamic rocker, Keys aims higher, digs deeper, and circles the wagons to manifest the most ambitious work of her career on the new LP. The guitar-shredding firebrand has fine-tuned her scintillating stew of high-octane blues and soulful R&B grooves, with the squad in tow to show and prove.

Talia is an activist-musician who has laid a loyal local foundation in Salt Lake City clubs for over a decade and later made her name on national tours and jam festivals from coast to coast. Keys’ vintage ethos, as well as her trademark, fire-and-brimstone stage presence, are an amalgam of her journey, identity, and influences, a new twist on the rock n’ roll troubadour singing songs of struggle and, ultimately, triumph. Lessons is a robust sound document that reflects a determined songwriter, principled artist, and electrifying frontperson.

Keys has long been determined to develop a well-oiled band to back her onstage, employing the sturdy sounds of The Love for over five years. The contingent includes jam band veteran Dave Brogan (ALO) on drums, Ryan Conger (Joe McQueen Quartet) on keys, Josh Olsen on bass, and Lisa Giacoletto on backing vocals. On 2018’s We’re Here, the crew galvanized while exploring Keys’ activated tracks. On Lessons, The Love incorporates the Omega Horns on several cuts, giving the compositions some proper pizazz.

Like so many soul and blues heroines who have paved the roads before her, Keys writes and sings of the tensions that continue to plague our cultural climate, assertively taking a principled stance in song after rebel song. The bandleader captures the conversations we’re currently conducting as a society. Simultaneously, Talia sees making music as her offering of peace and positivity, intended to redirect our energy away from the constant chaos that seems to surround us daily.

Lead single “Ain’t Got Time For This”, an uptempo romp that calls out to Motown and Stax with its throwback vibes and assertive groove, blasts back with a tenacity as potent as it is funky. Yet lyrically, the tune lives in the now, addressing the distressing state of our fractured society with Talia’s trademark unrepentant attitude and style.

“Existence is a resistance! Be proud of who you are, you are already making a difference. Persistence is resilience. Be bold. Say no and fight back for your presence,” Keys sings on “Each One Teach One”, a rallying cry of perseverance and rage that demonstrates Lessons’ attitude and awareness.

The scorching stomp defiantly marches along, a fat-bottom baritone sax bassline strutting all the way to the center of town. With typically-provocative lyrics dotting the entire album, Keys’ biting barbs address in her own space and place as a queer woman in today’s divided America.

Talia continues to sing for the dignity and spirit of others, as well; marginalized people of all kinds, in all places. “Head Up” is a feisty number that gallops with an undeniably uplifting message, emboldened by her spirited vocals and charged with her electric grit.

Talia says that “Come Back Down”, with its Brody Izm-directed video, is a very personal tune to her. The track was inspired by observing so many friends and peers endlessly grinding for an uncertain future without taking any time to smell the roses and enjoy the present moment. The stunning “Born in The Light” features a breathtaking music video filmed in the desert land of ancestral Puebloan and Ute Tribes. The treatment incorporates the Love and the Omega Horns, and was directed by Melahn Atkinson.

Written and produced by Keys herself, the compositions on Lessons were conceived and recorded just prior to the pandemic, foreshadowing an extremely contentious time in our lives. The subject matter is brimming with ruminations on the politics of our country, the patriarchy in the music industry, LGBTQ rights, and recognizing institutionalized racism. Some things are just worth fighting for, and when it comes to Talia Keys & the Love, music is the weapon.

On Lessons,Ms. Keys leans into the intestinal strength and resilience inherent in her voice with more clarity, consciousness, and swagger than ever. For more on Talia Keys and a full list of her upcoming tour dates with the Love, head here. Listen to Lessons below.

words: B.Getz

Talia Keys – Lessons – Full Album