12 time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys returns with her 4th studio album The Element Of Freedom on December 15. Alicia has sold over 26 million albums worldwide and over 6.7 million digital tracks in the US. Featuring the hits “Doesn’t Mean Anything” and “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart”, The Element Of Freedom promises to be one of Alicia Keys biggest releases to date.
“Love Is Blind” – Keys goes for an epic that sounds like a riff off Kanye West’s “808s and Heartbreaks” without the baggage.
“Doesn’t Mean Anything” – There is something whiny in Keys’ voice that leaves the verses flat and the chorus is too monotnonous to enjoy.
“Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” – Keys taps her inner Prince and really nails it. Its interesting when the verses seem to outshine the chorus.
“Wait Til You See My Smile” – Pretty, but not really much here to write about. It’s simply average for an artist like Keys.
“That’s How Strong My Love Is” – Keys again seems to be just getting by trying to let her talent push average songs to something better than they are–but it doesn’t work. No matter the talent level, average is average.
“Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” – Ditto the previous two songs.
“Love Is My Disease” – Keys gets raw and emotional like she fails to do on most of the album. It’s easy to tell when she feels it and when she doesn’t. This is the soul that Keys should be bringing each and every moment.
“Like the Sea” – Just skip this. It’s filler of the most boring kind. Keys is just phoning it in. It’s sad.
“Put It in a Love Song” featuring Beyoncé – Even if you can put up with the pathetic opening line “Hey, yo B. What up A?”–you’ll find Beyonce stealing the thunder from Keys. Beyonce saves the day on what turns out to be an unbelievably cheesy track with the depth of a Hannah Montana episode.
“This Bed” – Hard to tell what Keys was going for on this track. No matter what the aim, it missed the target but a mile.
“Distance and Time” – Skip it.
“How It Feels to Fly” – Another bummer.
“Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” f/Jay-Z – Thank God for Jay-Z who comes along to save you from an Alicia Keys coma. If you need to download just one song from the album this would be it. The bad news is that its Jay-Z not Keys that is worth the listen.
Alicia Keys seems lost. “The Element of Freedom” sounds like everything but freedom. It sounds like Keys is trapped in an attempt at turning out a hit and has lost everything that made her great. “The Element of Freedom” is missing a soul and the theme doesn’t seem to be alive from one track to another. The lack of cohesion hurts and frankly, this is average at best. Keys is too good for this type of album. Maybe next time.