Sultry soul songstress Alexis Keegan returns to the limelight with her smartest stuff yet in “What Am I Supposed to Do,” a single that melds the jazz-laden elements in her singing style with a swanky R&B groove that has the power to induce chills upon fist contact. “What Am I Supposed to Do” starts off with a hazy opening salvo of piano harmonies that wisp through the air like a warm breeze on a sunny afternoon, only to give way to a crushingly melodic lead vocal from Keegan that shakes the earth as much as the growing bassline does. The mood is marred with a bit of sadness, but despite the stone cold demeanor of the lyrics, there’s an underlying optimism in our singer’s voice that is enough to skew the song with startlingly intimate affections.
Keegan’s diverse influences are on full display like never before in “What Am I Supposed to Do,” and while this track leans more towards jazz than it does the pop side of the dial, there’s plenty of her trademark R&B swing here to satisfy longtime fans. She’s grown an awful lot as an artist in the last half-decade, but for the better; she’s softened some of the rougher edges that were littered throughout her debut, and amplified understated tones in her sound that only add to her lyrical luster and devastatingly decadent method of execution. Melodicism is of paramount importance to Keegan, and that’s never been as obvious as it is when she gets into the chorus of this charming elegy.
The pacing of “What Am I Supposed to Do” is rooted in conventional jazz song structuring (if there ever was such a thing), but the chic pop arrangement of the vocal track gives this single a vulnerability that makes it excellent fodder for mainstream airwaves as well as underground speakers. The hook here is larger than life, but it doesn’t overwhelm us coming into the chorus in the slightest. That’s because, as mammoth a melody as it may be, Keegan goes out of her way to deliver it to us as free of frills and fat as possible. When you’ve got a natural vocal timbre as tremendously textured as hers is, one thing younever have to worry about is adding bells and whistles to your studio recordings.
If you’re looking for that lamenting love song with a sexy, intellectual kick, this latest cut from Alexis Keegan could be exactly what’s been missing from your spring playlist. “What Am I Supposed to Do” is a very contemplative, introspecting ballad that, on the lyrical front, is about as heavy as they come in this medium, but instrumentally it’s not a track that will drain the life out of your heart with each listen it’s been afforded. Keegan brings a lot of different layers of artistry with her into the studio, and this single is probably one of her more complexly designed pieces that she’s released in her career. Her momentum certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing, and as long as she keeps making music of this caliber, I can’t imagine that changing any time soon.
Photo by Merideth Carlson