Alicia Keys “The Element of Freedom” review

Alicia Keys - The Element of Freedom

Artist: Alicia Keys
Title: The Element of Freedom
Label: J-Records
Rating: 6/10

Corporate line:
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.

Song reviews:
“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.


  1. Totally agree with the review. I just wrote one a few days ago and it is almost similar in contents and feelings about the album and about alicia keys.
    To be honest, I really have to disagree about Unthinkable and This Bed. I believe they are the tracks that most of all stand out of the album and they are worth a listen. BTW I have also listened to the bonus tracks in the Deluxe Edition and in the Empire Edition.
    I invite you to listen to Lover Man. It’s pretty good, reminds of old Alicia. Cheers from Italy.

  2. I have to desagree with the review. I consider the album her best after “in A minor”
    Doesnt mean anything is a great track with a lot of emotion, the bad is the video for it.
    Wait Til You See My Smile is the best track on the album for my liking. A great slow bild up of piano and drums with great vocals.
    The other songs are also great, except for “like the sea” which is a filler.
    Her rendition of state of mind is beautiful and JayZ just gives it edge.

    I love the album

  3. I don’t agree with the review at all.
    I feel like alicia keys is stepping out of her safety zone trying to build up new sounds. I Love both versions of empire state. Through it all is a great song, together with pray for forgiveniss, which is on the deluxe version, both great songs. Bed is a nice up-tempo sexy song, unthinkable has a nice vibe to it as well. the only track that i dont like is the one with beyonce and some of the slower ballads (distance and time, how it feels to fly), those feel like reproduced versions of her older songs. I don’t agree with beyonce outdoing alicia, you can hear beyonce’s influence in the song which I DONT like. lyrics are cheesy and the song feels like an old destiny’s child song that went wrong.
    Alicia still has it!!!!

  4. I completely disagree with this review. I actually preferred this album over her last (As I Am). I felt there was real passion, emotion, and vulnerability –which I felt we were missing from Alicia on As I Am.

    Anyway I love the Prince-feel I get when I hear this album. I love it.

    The only song I would put in my questionable file would be the track featuring Beyonce. I love Beyonce and Alicia but I didn’t like the song. It was rather childish in a not-so-cute way.

    I encourage the writer of this review to unclog your ears, free up your mind, and give it a listen again. You obviously must of been distracted to write such horrible things about this album. Alicia still has it!

  5. I tend not to agree with the review. Although I feel it is frank. It seems to come from someone who does not like this music genre.

    The worst track on the album is Put it in a Love Song. I skip it. Alicia does not need to sink to the level of pop trash.

    The rest of the songs are awesome without exception! Alicia has an amazing and soulful voice. She is beauty, pretty, sweet, powerful, emotional, jubilant, pleading. Most of all she is Free!

    By listening to this album we all experience an Element of Freedom.

  6. I feel like she was trying too hard on this album, she has definitely made better music. There are songs that completely stand out but I must also agree with one of the reviewers, you get the feeling that Alicia is constantly pushing the boundaries of her music, she might not always get it right but damn – she certainly pushes the envelop – in a world where we are inundated with sub-standard music that sounds the same all the time, I can only congratulate her on BRINGING IT! I would rate it at a 7 out of 10. As for that song with Beyonce, whatever was she thinking?

  7. I totally agree with this review. I just listed to this album this weekend and had the exact same thought that she doesn’t sound free at all. All of the songs have the same theme of being bound emotionally and mentally. Very sad.

  8. omg! this is exactly how it feel im going threw the same phase it feel so real. Very inspirational singer she reminds me of me.

  9. Thank goodness for some honesty in here (instead of the little corny one-liners “Bad Review”, and then leaving nothing else to say.)

    Anyways, my analysis was verrrrry similar. I feel more vehemently than the rest of you; she needs to get back to her Diary Of Alicia Keys days, because this is straight pop garbage. Bryan Adams pop meets Top 40 pop meets Grocery Store Music pop (1st single). I am sooooooo tired of all these reviews saying she possesses so much soul in her sound, when she sounds like she’s totally faking it. The only track I give her props for is This Bed, because it gives me this MJ/Prince feel when I hear it, and I liked that challenge she gave herself. But the rest of the album? No and no.

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