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The Element of Freedom (Deluxe Version)

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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 has always 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


What a beautifully crafted album! I swear this woman just keeps getting better and better. In a world of hype and reality shows and attention-hungry pseudo-celebrities, Alicia Keys reminds us of true artistry and talent. She's not just beautiful, she's also a genius! "Love Is My Disease" is very powerful.

Alicia does it again!

Alicia is back with what could be her best album yet! After my first listen the standout tracks are Love Is Blind, Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart, Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready), Like The Sea and That's How Strong My Love Is, which is sure to be heard at a lot of weddings in the future. There's a little bit of pop, reggae, hip-hop, r&B and classical throughout the album and that combination helped to make this Alicia's most interesting/brave album yet. The weakest song is Put It In A Love Song, but it's still a good song where the combined vocals of Alicia and Beyonce help to carry it. I'd recommend buying the whole album since the album is so strong. Alicia is one of the greatest talents of my generation and I'm sure that she'll continue making great music for years to come. This deluxe edition is well worth the money with 4 great performances and the Doesn't Mean Anything music video. A+

Yes yes yes!!!

Excellent album, have waited so long.
Carefully crafted album, beautiful music and deep lyrics.
1000% Alicia!!!


Born: January 25, 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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