Review Roundup: Alicia Keys – ‘The Element of Freedom’

The Element of Freedom

Alicia Keys’ fourth album The Element of Freedom soars into stores today. How did the songbird’s first album in two years fly with critics? Find out below.

Entertainment Weekly: What Keys’ often-banal lyrics lack, her quicksilver voice carries: bluesy and subterranean on the atmospheric opener, “Love Is Blind”; pure honeyed uplift on “Wait ‘Til You See My Smile,” and “That’s How Strong My Love Is”; ragged with longing on “Love Is My Disease,” a stirring semisequel to her ’07 smash “No One.” A-

USA Today: Though none of the tracks has the instant appeal of hits like “Fallin’” or “No One,” the songs are consistently strong and thematically cohesive. Freedom marks not so much a departure for Keys as it does the evolution of an artist still seeking higher ground. 3 out of 4

The New York Times: Even when she’s singing about losing it over a guy, as she does eight or nine times on the record, it comes across as the weakness of the mighty. Ms. Keys has enough presence of mind to reflect that love is a calculated risk, and can, given the right circumstances, produce greatness squared.

The Boston Globe: Channeling some of the space and intensity of Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak (especially the thunderous drum loops), it’s not at all self-indulgent. There’s a sprinkling of sass from Beyoncé’s I Am… Sasha Fierce, but never enough to supplant Keys’ own stamp on the music.

Los Angeles Times: After the all-too-human ups and downs she’s experienced through the rest of the album, ultimately she comes out of it sounding pretty, well, super. 3 out of 4

The Washington Post: Keys also teams with Beyoncé, the glittery Diana Ross to Keys’ super-serious poetry major, for the disc’s best track, “Put It in a Love Song.” “Love Song” is an oddly mechanical number that lurches from diva to diva but somehow doesn’t fall over; it’s flat-footed, but unlike the rest of Freedom, it’s also endearing.

Chicago Tribune: Keys takes few chances and rarely lets her guard down. But what she does, she does better than just about anyone: combining classic songcraft with hip-hop crunch. And—unlike her previous three studio albums—Freedom rarely sounds forced or gimmicky. It’s her most consistent album and also her most low-key. 3 out of 4

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart,” “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready),” “Love Is My Disease,” “Put It in a Love Song”

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31 Comments

  1. Dave

    Hmmm… I previewed the album when her & her label streamed it over Ustream & it was dull & boring as hell. It was lame to me

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    justin Reply:

    @Dave, I did too… Did I miss something? I LOVE Alicia, but this is a boring CD….

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  2. ha

    i guess the only reference to black people that white people know is beyonce hence why she comes up in the review of any other black artist. they don’t do it in a gaga or christina review. SMH

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    Harlem girl Reply:

    @ha, soooo true, that’s why their review doesn’t matter

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  3. *(SHEzADIVaBUTiMtHATbITCh)*

    I love Alicia…Her music is Timeless and speaks volumes….Her and Keri Hilson are the only Albums I have bought this year.

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  4. Jeremy

    me 2 cause i have keri hilson album in mi cd player and now alicia about 2 go in dere

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  5. Kolocho Kitler

    GREAT GREAT GREAT!
    BUT BROWN’S GRAFFITI IS BETTER I THINK :D

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  6. young black and gifted

    Aint getting this one, just not in the mood.

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  7. frenchie

    I think her album is lame and boring expet 2 songs. I wish i bought an other album.
    btw the cover sux as hell.

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  8. Kim

    I just bought the deluxe edition at Wal-Mart!! OMG I LOVE THIS ALBUM SO MUCH! And it came with a DVD :D

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  9. Oebie

    I just want to say: How It Feels To Fly is of her greatest songs she has ever made!!! Just, WOW!

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  10. Giselle

    Go AK! 3 out of 4 on every review? Amazing.

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  11. Jeremy

    i know the cd is good ass helli luvit

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  12. Jeremy

    i know the cd is good ass hell i luv it

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  13. LauraO

    This album starts off expressing what freedom is, and i think that she does an excellent job at not only depicting this through well crafted lyrics, but also through the musical arrangements, i hear so many new sounds for her, and i must say its def a move in the upward direction. She is one of a handful of artist albums that I actually wait for in great anticipation and PURCHASE. It worth it, she has once again left her stamp.
    XOXO
    LO

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    HMM Reply:

    @LauraO, You said it best. I can’t stop listening to it, especially the lyrics.

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  14. Lorin

    @ *(SHEzADIVaBUTiMtHATbITCh)*

    You obviously slept on Melanie Fiona. Album is awesome.

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  15. KELDRICK

    Don’t hurt them keys

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  16. James

    Her album is gr8, jst hav a listen @ work after my gf called me n tell me she loves me n when i asked her y she called me n told that, she jst say jst hve a listen to a gorgeous album.
    Surely after work gna go in a store n get zat album!!!
    Gna b the first time i’ll buy an album fron alicia keys and think gna worth my money!!!!!

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  17. hellno

    Her album is hot garbage.

    Big ups to the person who mentioned melanie fiona. She can sing her arse off.

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  18. MaZ

    Love her New Album! Wish her Much success!

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  19. crunkpoet

    damn does anyone like ballads anymore? as soon as an album comes out with ballads its dull and boring…jus beacuse u dont like slow jams doenst mean its boring! great album A Keys

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  20. Catie

    I’m curious to see how this album does sales wise. It’s her first album that doesn’t have a hit lead single so it’ll be interesting to see if it sells.

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  21. Lawayne

    I think the Album is GREAT..i really love it…it has a lot of meaning…when i first heard it i was like..ok its kind of different but i went back and listened again…really really GREAT lyrics…the songs are so relatable …i LOVE IT 10 out of 10

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  22. Lorenzo

    Wow her album is jst classic and gr8 i read zat she’s already first on itunes france n usa n third on uk and she’s first on 7 countries already!!!
    she’s phenomenalthat girl i love her!!!!!!

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  23. monique

    i purchased her album Monday on amazon.com for 3.99 and i actually liked it….but trust me this album is 4 swiss beats she be saying some sh!t in this album that makes u think about her relationship w/ him….i ddnt thnk that i would like it after previewing it but its good no better than as i am but she’s in love now so..hey if beyonce can do y cant she?

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  24. jamesy_88ak

    i thought the album was good, but it was almost a step back from as i am, i felt there was a greater risk taken on that album…i found myself skipping songs which had never happened on an a keys album before..im a die hard fan so i still love the album but there were songs which couldv been left off the album..in sayin that there were some great songs like how it feels to fly and even this bed..but yeh this is her weakest album..not sayin it is weak..but it is weaker then her others

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  25. d.ali

    this album is incredible! she let it all hang out and her lyrics are amazing. people have forgotten what music is. all they want to do is dance but people fail to understand that music is poetry. you have to listen to how she describes this element, love, and how deep she feels it. alicia is doing her thing and if she doesn’t sell its a shame. but then again, people think lil wayne is the best rapper alive smh…best songs: her whole album !

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  26. jormarcus

    Well I love this cd and I’m like crz about alicia…. Every song is a killer but put it in a love song it there yet lol un-thinkble is my fav then how it feels to fly 9 out of 10 good job luv u

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  27. ShrivatsDalmia

    ima cop Robin Thicke’s Sex Therapy instead.

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  28. CagedBird

    The meaning behind TEOF is so deep. I love Alicia! She keeps substantive music alive!

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