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Alicia Keys – Element of Freedom

2010-01-25 10:57
Element of Freedom

Freedom opens softly with Keys performing the poem "Risk" by Anais Nin* and then comes back strong with "Love Is Blind", the break out song of an album that circles and spins around compositions similar to those on previous albums Like the Sea, Doesn’t Mean Anything and Love is my Disease. This interplay (between soft and strong) occurs throughout the album as Alicia maxes out the emotional spectrum expressing desire, anger, disappointment and love.

The media buzz is all about "Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)" featuring Drake on background vocals. It's an R&B tune that sneaks up on you and stays on repeat in your head until you play the song again just for closure. Keys' husky voice makes this song both hypnotic and sexy. Even J-Lo and Mariah would sigh over this one and wish it was theirs.

It's when Keys taps into the Classic Soul sound that she loves, that she does best. The vintage music with bass and programmed drumbeats will have you tapping your feet, the gospel undertones of "Wait Til You See My Smile" and "How It Feels To Fly" might make you want to get religious. If you thought "This Bed", sung entirely in falsetto, sounds familiar you'd be right, Keys said that she tried to channel Prince with this tune and kudos to her for choosing this musical maestro as one of the influences she wishes to draw from.

Alicia Keys fans will love the signature piano that threads though most of the tunes especially "Try Sleeping with A Broken Heart" and "That's How Strong My Love Is". Her simple sentiments "Through the shake of an Earthquake, I will never fall, that’s how strong my love is" resonate with the current devastation in Haiti. The piano solos underscore Keys' true love, lifts the songs and gives them wings.

Least favourite tracks? "Love Is A Disease", a Bon Jovi inspired ballad and the Beyonce collab, "Put It In a Love Song" which is more like a lost outtake off the 'Fierce Album', very 'single ladies' in theme and Alicia's personality all but disappears beneath the Beyonce juggernaut.

Keys does end Freedom off strongly though with "Empire State of Mind". True fans will appreciate this neat version without Hoova’s thrills and spills. Bottom line, this album created in Keys’ own studio while not her finest is certainly one for fans to enjoy. Be prepared to exercise your own element of freedom and skip over the tunes that just don't soar.

* "And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom...this is the element of freedom" - performed by Alicia Keys written by Anais Nin.

What is the element of freedom? It's certainly not an escape from the soul cage as some critics had hoped, but about enjoying a creative process that takes place in your studio in your own space, expressing what you feel and singing your heart out.

What to read next: Kalahari
Read more on:    sony music  |  alicia keys


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