Alicia Keys - The Element of Freedom
Alicia Keys has an enviable musical past - her four albums have all be strong, soul classics with her formidable piano skills perfectly accompanying her vulnerable, yet intense voice. The Element of Freedom is a slight departure for the artist - more pop-oriented, it manages to have an instant appeal that her previous albums failed to achieve. They were all slow burners, but this time she has created something that sticks in your mind from the first listen. From the opening gambit, this is the album of an artist who is comfortable in their role as a superstar - more adventurous than any of her previous outings whilst retaining the qualities that made her a household name. Her soulful voice now has far more backing that adds layers of depth rather than overshadowing her performance. The only thing that this listener would have liked to have heard would be her recent Jay-Z collaboration 'Empire State of Mind' which is sadly missing (although there is a Jay-Z free reprise). Essential listening for fans of pop-influenced soul.