Alicia Keys has shown promise since she released her first album "Songs In A Minor" to critical acclaim back in 2001. "The Element Of Freedom" is her fourth album and is her most accomplished and mature. It has a polished feel to it, being consistently good throughout. She sticks to her usual formula of pop/R&B and piano led ballads, but there are quite a few pleasant surprises added to the mix too.
One of those is the highlight of the album, "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart", which is flawless and is now one of my favorite songs of all time. It is beautifully crafted with a great melody, catchy verses and chorus, great lyrics and a heartfelt piano led bridge - a true masterpiece. Another great choice of song is "Love Is My Disease" with a strong reggae influence to it. The other stand out songs are all piano led ballads: lead single "Doesn't Mean Anything", "That's How Strong My Love Is", "Distance In Time" and "How It Feels To Fly" which has a nice gospel choir singing towards the end of the tune. The funkier R&B tracks such as "Love Is Blind", the single "Unthinkable" and "This Bed" are all pleasantly catchy, adding to the album's diversity in styles. There are no particular weak tracks here which is great, my least favorite being the duet with Beyonce, "Put It In A Love Song", as it feels a little out of place and gimmicky but is catchy nonetheless.
I am very pleased with "The Element Of Freedom" as it shows how much Alicia Keys has grown as an artist in the past few years and gives an indication of what to expect from her in the future which is quite exciting.