The Element of Freedom

The Element of Freedom

4.4 41
by Alicia Keys
     
 

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Don't mistake the presence of Jay-Z and Beyoncé on Alicia Keys' fourth album as evidence that the singer/songwriter is burrowing into modern R&B -- take it instead as evidence of the rarefied company Keys keeps, her status as a superstar so solidified that the only cameos possible are R&B/hip-hop elite. Superstars areSee more details below

Overview

Don't mistake the presence of Jay-Z and Beyoncé on Alicia Keys' fourth album as evidence that the singer/songwriter is burrowing into modern R&B -- take it instead as evidence of the rarefied company Keys keeps, her status as a superstar so solidified that the only cameos possible are R&B/hip-hop elite. Superstars are often given leeway to do anything they want, and so it is on The Element of Freedom, where Keys dials back the outward expansion of As I Am and turns inward, creating a clean, small-scale collection of ballads and Prince-inspired pop. Always apparent on Alicia's albums, that Prince influence is underscored by how she's swapped the retro-soul instrumentation of her earliest music for electronics, but she's retained the warmth, the throwback sensibility and, especially, a sense of reserve, never getting too heated or gauche. This does mean the Prince elements feel more NPG than Revolution, but Keys trademark always has been an easy elegance. On The Element of Freedom, that elegance is so easy it borders on the sleepy, with Keys' understatement undercutting livelier numbers -- chief among them the bubbly Beyoncé duet "Put It in a Love Song "-- so they play as ballads. This isn't a complaint so much as a characteristic: her voice may crack on "Love Is My Disease," but Keys never gets gritty, she remains reserved, never letting her singing or arrangements obscure the melodies or the classy veneer of the entire proceedings. All this determined detachment keeps The Element of Freedom from packing a primal, passionate punch, but there is charm in Alicia's enveloping, quiet cool: she may never break a sweat, but she knows how to sustain a sultry, not necessarily sexy, mood, and she does so here quite fetchingly.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Leah Greenblatt
What Keys' often-banal lyrics lack, her quicksilver voice carries: bluesy and subterranean on the atmospheric opener, ''Love Is Blind''; pure honeyed uplift on ''Wait 'Til You See My Smile'' and ''That's How Strong My Love Is''; ragged with longing on ''Love Is My Disease,'' a stirring semisequel to her '07 smash ''No One.'' [A-]

Product Details

Release Date:
12/15/2009
Label:
J-Records
UPC:
0886974657125
catalogNumber:
746571

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Alicia Keys   Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals,Moog Synthesizer,fender rhodes,Wurlitzer,Moog Bass,Hammond B3
Paul Pesco   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Carlos Alomar   Electric Guitar
Roger Hambrick   Choir Director
Conrad Robinson   Choir Director
John Jubu Smith   Electric Guitar
Steve Wolf   Drums
Steve Mostyn   Piano,Bass Guitar,Moog Bass
Ron Haney   Electric Guitar
Jeff Bhasker   Synthesizer,Keyboards
Toby Gad   Guitar,Keyboards
Davide Rossi   Strings,Violin,Cello,Viola
Noah Shebib   Keyboards
Jeff Gitelman   Electric Guitar
Billy Kraven   Background Vocals
Shux   Keyboards

Technical Credits

Bert Keyes   Composer
Conrad Robinson   Management
Sylvia Robinson   Composer
Shawn Carter   Composer
Ann Mincieli   Engineer
Swizz Beatz   Producer,drum programming
Kerry Brothers   Composer,Producer,Executive Producer,drum programming
Peter Edge   Executive Producer
Steve Mostyn   Composer
Alicia Keys   Composer,Producer,Executive Producer,Concept
Kasseem Dean   Composer
Patrick "Plain Pat" Reynolds   Composer,drum programming
Angela Hunte   Composer
Miki Tsutsumi   Engineer
Jeff Bhasker   Composer,Producer,drum programming
Toby Gad   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Jeanine McLean Griffin   Management
Jeff Robinson   Executive Producer,Management
Davide Rossi   String Arrangements
Noah Shebib   Composer,Producer,Engineer,drum programming
Dave Kutch   Mastering
Stuart White   Engineer
Shuckburgh   Composer
Melini Smith   Composer
Janeït Sewell-Ulepic   Composer
Shux   Programming,Producer

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