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The Element of Freedom

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Album Review

Don’t mistake the presence of Jay-Z and Beyoncé on Alicia Keys' fourth album as evidence that the singer/songwriter is burrowing into modern R&B — take it instead as evidence of the rarefied company Keys keeps, her status as a superstar so solidified that the only cameos possible are R&B/hip-hop elite. Superstars are often given leeway to do anything they want, and so it is on The Element of Freedom, where Keys dials back the outward expansion of As I Am and turns inward, creating a clean, small-scale collection of ballads and Prince-inspired pop. Always apparent on Alicia’s albums, that Prince influence is underscored by how she’s swapped the retro-soul instrumentation of her earliest music for electronics, but she’s retained the warmth, the throwback sensibility and, especially, a sense of reserve, never getting too heated or gauche. This does mean the Prince elements feel more NPG than Revolution, but Keys trademark always has been an easy elegance. On The Element of Freedom, that elegance is so easy it borders on the sleepy, with Keys’ understatement undercutting livelier numbers — chief among them the bubbly Beyoncé duet “Put It in a Love Song” — so they play as ballads. This isn’t a complaint so much as a characteristic: her voice may crack on “Love Is My Disease,” but Keys never gets gritty, she remains reserved, never letting her singing or arrangements obscure the melodies or the classy veneer of the entire proceedings. All this determined detachment keeps The Element of Freedom from packing a primal, passionate punch, but there is charm in Alicia’s enveloping, quiet cool: she may never break a sweat, but she knows how to sustain a sultry, not necessarily sexy, mood, and she does so here quite fetchingly.

Customer Reviews

Alicia's best yet

I loved alicia in 'As I Am' and the single 'No One' was a hit from the start. And now she is back 'The Element Of Freedom' is alicia 's best album and is going to take the music scene by storm the concept of the album is great and Alicia's amazing voice is that of an angel. The single from this album is 'Doesn't Mean Anything' is one of my favorite tracks ever it is soothing smooth and sweet a combanation that wins my heart every time this American song bird is a lady that will go down in history if she keeps up the good my favorite tracks are: 'Doesn't Mean Any Thing','Put It In A Love Song','That's How Strong My Love Is','Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart',and ' Un-thinkable'. In conclusion great stuff good hook ups with Jay-z and Beyonce . I recommend you buy this album worth every cent.

I luv this album

Alicia Keys has yet done it again!! Her music is so elegant and calming, but some of her music makes me think 'how on earth did she come up with the lyrics to that song' i thought that only because her songs are AMAZING!!!!!!!

Well, well, well

I'd just like to say that whats the point of putting the element of freedom (Intro) on the alubm, when it only goes for 0:12 seconds?? and it costs as much as any of the other full length songs?????????


Born: 25 January 1981 in New York, NY

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Alicia Keys became an international star through her singular mix of classic and contemporary R&B. Behind the number one pop hit "Fallin," her debut album, Songs in A Minor, sold more than 50,000 copies during its first day of availability in 2001 and eventually moved over ten million units worldwide, thus setting the stage for the then-20-year-old's long career. She was just behind D'Angelo, and ahead of Norah Jones, as the second singer, songwriter, and keyboardist to top the Billboard 200 during...
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