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)