When Alicia’s new album slips from the piano intro into the first track, Brand New Me, it does so like a trickling river. And the river keeps rippling over the rocks, defiantly but gently. It’s a whispered word meant to be heard. The ripple flows into a quiet storm of newfound self-possession, in a breath of an echo, a string cuts loose to a brand new kinda free. Long ago four young men said it best in three simple words; Let It Be. As far as feminist anthems go, it’s dignified and graceful, and at the very core of it, so beautiful and plaintive I don’t know what else to do with it but admire in wordless wonder. Co-written by Britain’s Pop Queen of the Year Emeli Sande (most albums sold in the UK in 2012 as well as prominent role in both, the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics) it sounds like Alicia has found a kindred spirit in Emeli. Both are stunning singers and sophisticated songwriters, rare specimens of class in a gawdy parade of chart princesses. Brand New Me plays a befitting opener for a new year and new promises, for the 52 weeks, 12 months and 365 days and ways to say, I love this song.