This album is different to Alicia's previous albums but it isn't worse, it's just as powerful and affecting but it's quieter. It's more experimental, there seems to be more variety in the way she uses her voice, the instrumentation and the musical influences seem more diverse but as an Alicia Keys fan I am overjoyed to finally have this cd.
When I first listened to 'As I Am' I was surprised at the number of quieter 'ballad' tracks but it's growing on me and I can see a lot of familiar elements here that I loved in the other recordings, e.g., 'Teenage Love Affair' has a blissful retro summery feel that takes me back to 'You Don't Know My Name' and 'Go Ahead' has a similar driving power to the first couple of tracks on 'The Diary'. Also there are several tracks on here that almost immediately moved me to tears, really well crafted love songs and I could easily compare 'Tell You Something' to the special effect 'If I Ain't Got You' always had on me.
I'm not trying to say that this album is the same as the previous recordings because it isn't, if I wasn't already writing this review after 1 day of owning the cd I'd say it's more of a slow-burn album. To me it has a more profound happiness and a lot of love and a little less thunder about it. I'm happy with the differences and glad to have the things that haven't changed - great songs, fantastic vocals and beautiful piano. To me it's a good sign, artists that change stick around.