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What Happened to Alicia Keys?
Yesterday she released her 4th studio album “The Element of Freedom“, and unfortunatley it’s just a tad forgettable. Not to give the impression that it’s a bad album, it really isn’t. In fact there really isn’t anything about the individual songs that I can complain about, however altogether there are some issues with the album. My main complaint though is that a majority of the songs on this new effort don’t sound new at all. There are times while listening when you feel like you may be listening to some unreleased demos to her last album “As I Am” (evidenced in “Love is My Disease” or “Doesn’t Mean Anything”) and other instances where you feel like you are listening to discards from her second album “Diary” (the Beyonce featured “Put it in a Love Song” and “Empire State of Mind Part Two”). There are a few, well TWO, songs that breakthrough and take Keys to a new level and those are “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” which has a bit of a vocal cameo from Drake, and “That’s How Strong My Love Is” which is a huge R&B ballad reminscent of the classic 80’s hit “Tender Love” by Force MD’s. Those two (well and “Wait Til You See Me Smile” which has a very nice arrangement, but the vocals leave alot to be desired) are really the only stand outs and that’s the real problem with the album on the whole. It feels like Alicia has plateaued and maybe run out of new and interesting ideas. She herself did say in a interview I happened to read that she went into this album having no idea what to do, and it’s pretty evident. She didn’t know how to take her music to the next level, so she just stayed where she was comfortable.
And again, I think I should say this isn’t a bad album. It’s thouroughly listenable, and it might even grow on me, but Alicia has a history of grabbing you with that first listen and because this album doesn’t offer that same effect, it’s a bit of a disapointment. I still have faith in her, she is probably one of the more talented artists of her generation and I think she just needs some real inspiration to deliver another Amazing album. A bad album happens to the best of them, and this is just a slight hitch in Keys’ discography. Better luck next time A.