The Element of Freedom: Review

Just received a copy of ALICIA KEYS‘ new album

THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM

And the day came when the risk it took to remain
tightly closed in a bud, was more painful
than the risk it took to bloom…
this is THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM.

The fourth studio album from Alicia Keys, “THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM” is a another solid selection of songs. I will admit I was a bit : / after hearing the lead single “Doesn’t Mean Anything”, but as soon as Ms Key’s released “Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart” I was certain this album would bring the beats, the lyrics and the melodies. The album opens with “Love is Blind” – after a short intro – a track showcasing Ms Key’s tone in a lower register. The song has a somewhat sinister/dark vibe to it, as it almost shows love to be a force that has consumed her and she can’t do anything about it, despite her friends thinking she’s crazy…

Onto the lead single, I’m sure you’ve all heard it. In my opinion, it’s not bad, just not one of the standout tracks on the album. HOWEVER

“Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart”

is in another league. This track showcases Ms Key’s clever lyrical content and catchy melodies.

Hard beat + raspy vocals + sick hook = recipe for a hit.

The bridge is beautiful and I love the harmonies and build in the song. It is definitely one of my favourite joints on the album. It also has a very hopeful vibe, that although she’s with a broken heart and struggling, she’s going to ‘find a way to make it without you’…

“Wait Til You See My Smile” has an epic sound to it. I can already picture hearing this live with a full on band. The strings being played by a mini orchestra. The backing singers’ oo-ing  blending with Alicia’s vocals. I’ve noticed that all of the songs on the album really build as each song progresses. There’s this sense of journey throughout the album…

The next few songs do not fail to deliver sweet melodies, driven beats and soulful singing from Ms Keys – see “That’s How Strong My Love Is”, “Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)” – ft Drake, “Love Is My Disease” and “Like The Sea”. I’m really feeling the guitar in “Disease”… especially at the end AND I’m really feeling the emotion in A Key’s voice on all the tracks.

EH YO B?
WHAT UP A?

Beyoncé features on the next track “Put It In A Love Song”, which at first did not necessarily WOW me when I first heard it on the net, but having heard this joint in context with the rest of the album it is most definitely a standout track. Its hard-hitting, pulsating drums with a hook I can already see being sung by women all over the world = a very empowering song for women. It showcases two very successful women declaring ‘say you love me, say you love me, then put me in a love song’. I must admit I can’t tell who is singing the first ‘gotta work it, baby work it out’…it doesn’t sound like AK, sounds more like Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child.

Onto “This Bed”, I like the beat for this track as it’s a little different to some of the previous tracks and it sets up nicely for the slower, ballad-esque tunes coming up; “Distance and Time”, “How It Feel To Fly” and “Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down”…

The bonus tracks of “Through It All” and “Pray For Forgiveness” add nicely to the album, extending the feeling present throughout this wonderful offering from Ms Keys. I love the ending of “Through It All” = passionate vocals and the build in “Pray” is WOWZA. I don’t think this woman can really do any wrong. I will need to continue to spin this album to truly appreciate it, but I am very happy with this musical meal that Alicia Keys has cooked up.

Standout tracks: Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart, Wait Til You See My Smile, Love Is My Disease, Put It In A Love Song, This Bed, Distance And Time, Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down, Through It All, Pray For Forgiveness.

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