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The Element of Freedom *

1 rating: 3.0
An album by Alicia Keys

Recording information: Conway Studios, LA; Oven Studios, NY; Strawberrybee Studios, NY. Photographer: Yu Tsai . Don't mistake the presence of Jay-Z and Beyonc? on Alicia Keys' fourth album as evidence that the singer/songwriter is burrowing into modern … see full wiki

Tags: Music, R&b
1 review about The Element of Freedom *

A More Personal and Soulful Alicia Keys

  • Jan 10, 2010
Rating:
+3
Pros: She can sing and play an instrument!; she beautiful and intelligent.

Cons: Some misfires 

The Bottom Line: The Element of Freedom is a worthy successor those works that came before it.

Original Release Date: December 15, 2009
Genre: R&B, Popular  
Label:  J-Records
Number of Discs: (1)

Twelve-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys, the beautiful, light-skinned, Black-American bombshell diva from Harlem released her forth studio album The Element of Freedom in December 2009 to much funfair some seven years after her smash 10 million selling Songs in A Minor (2001).

Upon release, As I Am, like its predecessors won wide-spread critical acclaim and debuted on the charts at No. 1 selling some 742,000 copies in its first week of release making it her strongest debut album yet.  As of January 2008, As I Am had sold some three million copies worldwide; earning a triple-platinum designation, making it less successful than Songs in A Minor, but what's a million albums in sales between Diva and fans?

To date the multi-talented Ms. Keys has sold over 26 million albums worldwide and some 6.7 million digital tracks, or singles in the United States.  Although only on the streets for a month, according to Nielsen/SoundScan Ms. Keys latest studio album, The Element of Freedom debuted at the No. 1 spot on Billboard's R&B Albums and Digital Albums charts as well as No. #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart. In its first week the album sold some 418,000 copies and spawned the hit singles Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart (track No. 4) and Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down (track No. 14). 

While this showing is not as good as past efforts, the numbers were enough to give Alicia Keys the biggest first week sales for a female R&B performer in 2009.

There is something refreshingly predictable about Alicia Keys' music; it like a comfortable pair of socks, or a set of freshly washed silk sheets.  Her music slides down the musical palate like a rich full-bodied wine, a choice cut of expertly grilled porterhouse steak.  It's a known quantity, but each album brings to the table a contemporary vibe that far from being disjointed fits right in and makes me smile and sing along. 

For example track No. 10 Put in a Love Song (Featuring Beyonce) lends the piece a certain urban Hip-Hop cache that would appeal to the younger set, but without tarnishing the song for her older fans. 

Like all of Ms. Keys albums there is strong undercurrent of the relationship in her music, though Alicia has never been linked to anyone romantically-The Diva is reluctant to speak openly about certain elements of her personal life.  Be that as it may, The Element of Freedom is a very good album with just the right amount of mid-tempo beat coupled with a more thoughtful tone that belies her more mature outlook on life.

Keys has said of The Element of Freedom that it is about overcoming depression, possibly after a bad break-up that we failed to hear about in the mainstream entertainment press.  This is not hard to believe given the tone and tenor of the CD's track listing; track No. 4 Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart certainly speaks of broken dream, aching hearts, and empty beds.

Throughout this engaging CD Alicia Keys never fails to entertain; the CD brings something fresh and engaging to the table with every track; indeed the more I listen the more I like The Element of Freedom.  It's clear that Ms. Keys is singing about the heart-rending process of getting over a recent breakup, but she also lamenting the joy of newly rediscovered independence and a spiritual rediscovery (track No. 6 That's How Strong My Love is) as she says goodbye to the past and looks ahead to the future.

If I have one criticism of the CD, it is that Ms. Key's vocals are not as strong as they have been on pat CD's because of over engineering and layering.  On some tracks I found it hard to recognize her (distinctive) voice and that is unfortunate because she uses it to good effect.

Nonetheless The Element of Freedom is a worthy successor those works that came before it.  Though some of the lyrics are pedestrian, they nonetheless work in the context of the overall work.  Alicia I still love your music!  

Track Listing:


•1.    The Element of Freedom (Intro)
•2.    Love is Blind
•3.    Doesn't Mean Anything
•4.    Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart
•5.    Wait Til You See My Smile
•6.    That's How Strong My Love Is
•7.    Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)  
•8.    Love is My Disease
•9.    Like The Sea
•10. Put It In a Love Song (Featuring Beyonce Knowles)
•11. This Bed
•12. Distance And Time
•13. How It Feels To Fly
•14. Empire State of Mind (Part II)   

Recommended:
Yes

Great Music to Play While: At Work

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The Element of Freedom *
Details
Label: J-Records
Artist: Alicia Keys
Release Date: December 15, 2009

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