R&B aficionados need to check out Alexis Keegan’s new single “What Am I Supposed to Do” this April and find out precisely why critics like myself are falling head over in heels in love with the rising soul star’s latest work. This isn’t the first hit from Keegan – in fact, far from it (see 2014’s Clean Slate for a prime example). She’s been running with a pretty impressive crowd since her college days, but as a solo artist she’s only recently begun tapping into her experimental side, and “What Am I Supposed to Do” is evidence of her hard work in stereo.
As I mentioned, alongside Clean Slate, Keegan has turned in some fairly noteworthy material in the last few years, with songs like the epic “Gospel” and plaintive “Heaven” standing out as really significant pieces. That said, “What Am I Supposed to Do” has a much tighter look and feel than what I was anticipating out of her newest single, and it seems to me to have more of a jazzy complexion than any of her previous stuff has. Keegan wears it well, and I for one think that she’s sounding more like a professional in this track than she ever has before.
A muscular master mix helps us to hear every little stitch of detail in Keegan’s voice in “What Am I Supposed to Do,” and there’s definitely no shortage of wonderment to appreciate. She comes into the chorus with a lot of patience, but as it reaches a fever pitch, she lets her hair down and goes all-in for a climax that stands up well against anything I’ve heard all year long. She’s got a little bit of a Tammi Terrell thing going on when she hits the refrain, but with a bit more vibrato in the finish that gives her vocal a sleek, contemporary energy as well.
There’s a lot of color in Keegan’s dispensing of the lyrics here, and if you didn’t think that this talented young powerhouse was capable of singing just about anything that you could throw in her direction, you’re definitely going to after giving this single a dedicated spin. “What Am I Supposed to Do” is a song that was built for the stage (which is made abundantly clear in a new video of Keegan recently playing it at The Mint in Los Angeles), but it’s got an infectious pop hook that is almost guaranteed to make it a winner on college radio and indie R&B stations across the country this spring.
I really love what Alexis Keegan is doing with her songcraft these days, and while I’ve heard a lot of really thrilling new music from artists across the pop spectrum this last month, “What Am I Supposed to Do” is by far one of the most emotional and accessible in terms of R&B songs. I’ve got a feeling that this won’t be the last time that this singer makes headlines in the underground for her stunning sound, and if this track gets the widespread attention that I think it’s capable of garnering, she could easily segue into the mainstream market before the year comes to an end.
Photo by Merideth Carlson