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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

Best to date

Her best album to date. The music and lyrics on this album reflects her maturity in life. Pure expressions of her soul-- heartache, loss, and redemption.
A five star classic during this period of music-- fills a void that's been missing in the music industry. It's a true expression of an artist-- not some over-manufactured music created by an out of touch a&r rep.


I absolutely love this album!
I've only listened to it once and I already love it! Lyrically and musically nobody is touching A.Keys every album she does sumthin different and I appreciate it. This album has a different sound and her voice sounds amazing! She is truly an artist and a musician she puts her all in her music and it's clearly shown in this cd!

My fav songs:
Wait to you see my smile
Love is Blind
Try sleeping with a broken heart
That's how strong my love is
Like the Sea
Love is my Disease

Ok songs:
Put it in a love song feat Beyonce( she wasn't needed on this album sorry)
Doesn't Mean Anything

The rest I haven't gotten a chance to listen to thoroughly so I cnt rate it lol

But this cd is a must have! So go get it :-)


I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE how she doesn't over exagerate her music. She has always sounded real and now adays you don't see or hear "real" any more from artists. I mean, c'mon! There's more to life than the hussle, money, sex, parties, and drugs. But back to her album review, realistically, there are always going to be some joints (songs) that aren't always on point or with your taste such as some of her fast songs in this one but I'm really glad that she's out with another album and I will admit that I'm still a big fan.


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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