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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 11 January 2010
After hearing this album a couple of times you can determine a balance of vulnerability, strength, and love captured throughout the progression of Key's fourth album. This was written during a time of intense personal struggle for the New York City songstress, and her pain is evident throughout Freedom. Almost completely lacking in some of the more upbeat cuts that buoyed her last album As I Am (Teenage Love Affair for example), Freedom is often little more than Keys, a piano, some minimal backing and her extraordinary voice, making the album the least immediately accessible of her career. This is an album that does not immediately grab you. Instead, it requires some patience, demands the listener put in some work too, but those who are willing to follow Keys' will find their effort well rewarded.

1. The Element of Freedom (Intro)

Alicia Keys does spoken word for the opening of her album.

2. Love Is Blind

Sometimes you can see the effects of loves strong hold. "Love is Blind" is the opening track that sets the bar for a soulful, powerful and lyrical album. Alicia harmonizes with background vocals and bass driven drums. Great way to start off an album.

3. Doesn't Mean Anything

"Doesn't Mean Anything" is the 1st single of off The Elements of Freedom. This track tells the tale of realizing that all your dreams mean nothing without anyone to share it with. Classic A. Keys is written all over this track.

4. Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

You have to let the pass go and move on with you life. "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart" is a smooth mid-tempo track with drums and electric keyboards. The drums provide the foundation of an edgy and sultry joint.

5. Wait Til They See My Smile

Overcome sadness and judgment with a smile. "Wait Til They See My Smile" is a song about perseverance. The hook sounds like a sample of the Beach Boys "Kokomo". It's probably my least favorite track on the album.

6. That's How Strong My love Is

Standing strong through the motions of love. "That's How Strong My love Is" is beautiful song that follows the cohesive flow of the piano lined album

7. Unthinkable (I'm Ready) Featuring Drake

Unthinkable is the sexiest and most sensual song on the Elements of Freedom. Canadian rapper, Drake provided background vocals on the track and brings a masculine quality to the track. A. Key's sultry intro sets the foundation for the best song on the album.

8. Love Is My Disease

Have you ever been in love so much that you can't act right without them? "Love Is My Disease" is about missing the company of that spell someone to the point where it makes you sick. The track has a Caribbean inspired flare that creates a distinctly different sound.

9. Like The Sea

Love can wrap you up and swallow you like a tidal wave that's too strong. "Like The Sea" is a song of metaphorical brilliance that captures the heavy emotions of love.

10. Put It In A Love Song (Featuring Beyonce)

"What up B? What up AAAAA?"

Two of American R&B's most talented women team up to do a collaboration that I consider less than stellar. "Put It In A Love Song" is like a spinoff of Beyonce's "Check Up On It" without the ghetto bass line. I think the track was a bit rushed and they just wanted to join forces. Sometimes you need to balance out sound. Female/ Male and R&B/ Hip Hop collaborations usual work the best.

11. This Bed

Have you ever slept in a lonely bed by yourself? "This Bed" is a mid-tempo track that talks about wishing someone were here in bed sleeping next to you. A playful and sensual track that`s smooth to groove to.

12. Distance And Time

For all those Lovers in LDR (Long Distance Relationships) that wish they were next to that special someone. "Distance and Time" is a soft and touching track that shows A. Key's vulnerable side. This is one of those songs that will make you cry if you're in the same situation.

13. How It Feels To Fly

Sometimes you have to let go of the materialistic and superficial things and just fly. "How It Feels To Fly" is a beautiful and motivational song that brings strength and hope to the album. A good listen to lift your spirit and give you an optimistic view on life.

14. Empire State of Mind (Part II) Featuring Jay-Z

An Ode to New York Empire State of Mind (Part II) is the R&B version of Jay-Z's hit "Empire State of Mind". A. Keys vocals are amazing on this song and it makes you feel like you should be from New York. Same hook but the chorus is provided by Alicia's vocals. Very inspiring way to end a powerful album!

"The Element of Freedom" is an album for lovers and true romantics at heart. Piano keys fill the entire album with A. Keys signature style and grace. You may need to be in love or a place of true happiness to appreciate this album. "Element of Freedom" is lyrically romantic and full of metaphorical depth. I don't know what Swizz Beats did to A. Keys but she is open and free of it all. While there are a few misfires ("Put It In a Love Song" comes to mind), these flaws are rendered null and void due to the excellence of songs like "UnThinkable" and "Like The Sea". With Freedom, Alicia Keys takes listeners on a lush journey, one that showcases her consistency as well as a foundation of strength, vulnerability and ultimately, hope.
The tracks that stood out to me are:
Love Is Blind

Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

Unthinkable (I'm Ready)

Like The Sea

Empire State of Mind (Part II)
0Comment| 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
There are some good songs and just as many fine performances
on Alicia Keys' new album 'The Element Of Freedom'. (Which is
not to say it's flawless). Her 2007 release 'As I Am' pressed
all the right buttons - my heart still goes all-a-flutter every
time I hear 'Superwoman'! It was a suberbly fervent recording.

'TEOF' deepens and darkens the formula somewhat without losing
what is most important. The Voice. What a wonderful voice it is!

Listen to 'Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart' for evidence of an
artist playing at the absolute top of her game. Co-written with
Jeff Bhasker it is one of the finest songs in her career so-far.
The big drum sound works magically well with the ecstatic melody.

'That's How Strong My Love Is' is as sweet as a peach.
The warm, breathy vocal is swept along by Ms Keys'
not insignificant keyboard skills until it reaches its
harmonically complex and soulfully climactic ending.

'Doesn't Mean Anything' is a lovely song too but would have
been even more impressive had 'No One' not previously seen the
light of day. Musical cousins a tad too similar for comfort.

Ms Knowles seems to be popping up everywhere these days.
Here she is once again duetting on 'Put It In A Love Song'.
It is perhaps the album's weakest composition. Two Divas in
the same tent doesn't necessarily make for a better circus!

'This Bed' is a light and airy piece of pure blissed-out pop.

'How It Feels To Fly' is the album's warm beating heart.
A stunning song performed with fearless technique and real passion.
The gospel chorus in the final bars is truly uplifting.

A solidly enjoyable album.

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on 8 January 2012
I fell in love with 'Doesn't mean anything' and 'Try sleeping with a broken heart', when I first heard them on the radio. After the release of 'Empire state of mind' I was totally convinced that such good songs would lead to an amazing album. So I ordered it immediately !

When I first listened to the album I caught myself skipping the 'album fillers'. They gave me a déjà vu feeling ...
Even after listening to the whole album for several times, I still wasn't fully convinced.

The hits are incredible, but the fillers made me rate this one only with 3 stars.
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on 1 August 2011
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.
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on 30 April 2016
I heard Alicia on the radio a little while ago with "New York State of Mind" and, whereas I have owned her "Songs in A Minor" for a number of years, I never gave credit for her talent. So, another careful listen to the sampler of this album. Excellent, and although a winner of many Grammy awards it is a great pity Alicia Keys is not up there with Adele in terms of accolades. A great register on her voice which is accompanied mainly by a strong piano arrangement. No disappointments here at all. Recommended
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on 21 March 2013
I love Alicia's voice, but the music is poor overall. A few nice and sweet pop songs on the album, not much more. I wish she would try a different genre than just simple and spiritless pop. That would be great with her amazing voice. Unfortunately, she is getting more and more "pop-y". Too bad...
The recording (quality of sound) is good. If you have a good hi-fi system you will enjoy Alicia's voice on the album.
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on 14 December 2009
Don't hesitate to buy this album whether you're a part time or fully fledged Alicia fan.
It contains all you would expect and little more with a couple of experimental tracks that you'll grow to appreciate.
"Doesn't Mean Anything" and "How It Feels To Fly" are classic Keys style as is the beautiful "That's How Strong My Love Is."
"Love Is Blind" has the Rhianna ring to it as already suggested, but it's an experiment that works for me. "Love Is My Disease" does test her vocals, although I feel that this also works for me. It's kind of good to hear Alicia' voice used differently.
The Alicia/Beyonce mix is one that will appeal to some. It's catchy, but will soon lose it's appeal. Ditto "This Bed".

And if you find a song that isn't quite doing it, just focus on the artwork of the album cover. You will be reminded of the beauty behind the voice and the effort that she will have put into making this song sound great for you and me.
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on 30 January 2010
Wow! Don't know where to start with this review; lost for words, which is very unusual! The album has to be noted as one of the albums of the year. Every song is a winner with several stand out tracks; Empire State Of Mind (Part II), Doesn't Mean Anything, Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart & Put It In A Love Song (featuring Beyoncé) to name just a few. Alicia Keys has just grown to be a very class act, I'm sure anyone who has seen her live would agree? A highly recommended album to buy and Amazon's price was unbeatable when I purchased my copy.
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on 12 April 2012
I really don't understand the negative reviews on this album, I purchased it back on its release in 2010 (maybe end 2009) and I absolutely love it! Admittedly I was not an Alicia fan and have since bought her previous works. I listen to this album ever now and again after playing it to death and it always reminds me of a time in my life, track 5 Wait 'til you see my smile, but upon listening today it now refers to new experiences in my life - to anyone who doesn't get this album, go get some life experience and re-listen. I personally get lost in this for the duration, getting wrapped up in all kinds of emotions. Alicia sings about love, loss, life and its shows exceptionally on this album! To all who do love it I suggest you check out Beyonces lil' sis Solange Knowles - Sol Angel and the Hadley Streey Dreams.
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on 16 December 2009
Another work of art that AGAIN shows that this beautiful talented singer continues to do HER thing with little care or concern for keeping up with the pop trash that is polluting our airwaves. It shows growth, development and maturity which surpasses all of her peers and again reminds us that Alicia Keys will be around in 20 years when many of her contemporaries have crashed and burned.

However, I have deducted a star out of dissappointment that someone as gifted as Miss Keys could sully a work of art by collaborating with the ubiquitous Ms Knowles. "Put it in a love song" is right up there with The Cheeky Girls or J Lo's "I'm still Jenny from the block". This three minutes and 15 seconds of vapid insignificant nonsense is typical of the type of music we all come to expect from Beyonce - "What up A, what up B, text me on your cell phone blah blah blah" - Uggh !!!! Just horrid.

Otherwise, the album is a beautiful collection of thought provoking catchy beats and ballads. Turn the lights out, get a glass of wine on these cold dark wintry evenings, sit back and enjoy.

Miss Keys, once again - I salute you.
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