As I Am - Alicia Keys
Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. And so even though As I Am is a flawed work--a little too poppy, a little too clichéd--it is also indicative of what Keys can and will do, and that she is someone, thanks to her curiosity, intelligence, and natural talent, who will be able to mature and grow for years to come
  2. New York City soulstresses born in January a decade apart ('71 and '80, respectively), Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys flex their commercial empowerment in passionate opposition. Yonkers street survivor Blige and Manhattan piano prodigy Keys presently command career-high profiles with voices incapable of unfeeling line readings, though Booker T. & the MGs rather than synthetic New Jack soul should groove both ladies back to the old school, where their voices belong. Blige's desperate search for romantic stability counters Keys' full blush of new connection. Her eighth album since 1992 and first since 2005's Grammy-winning The Breakthrough, the former's Growing Pains starts unsteady, but its heart beats strong and sincere. Million-dollar opener "Work That" updates Motown for the 21st century with a rinky-dink piano figure and Blige's wigged head held high. Entanglements with Ludacris ("Grown Woman") and Usher ("Shake Down") tryst up unadvised, while the yearning "Feel Like a Woman" and its appeal to traditional sex roles feels pat. The succeeding "Stay Down" couches its pleas in experience rather than idealism, however, and "Hurt Again" promises this is the last time, obvious wishful thinking given the song's hook: bald denial. The synthetic funk of "Till the Morning" works best for more submissive bedroom confessions, backup "Roses" whiffing equally needy yet turns vulnerability into resentment ("it ain't all roses, flowers, and poses"), and eventually dominance. It's one of Growing Pain's best, another being "Fade Away," its treadmill tempo riding a straight line groove. The disc then loses steam (nagging "Talk to Me," clouded "Smoke") when it should've lost 20 of its 65 minutes but ends on strong note in "Come to Me (Peace)," a sort of ramped-down antidote to the relative anxiety of the rest of the album. As I Am, Keys' third studio release, pounds and caresses ivory, yet Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder carry equal weight with Streisand and Minelli since the singer soars from a much larger stage.
  3. The strong stories that Keys spins are complemented by deft musical arrangements that integrate more rock and pop into her enriched old-school vibe.
  4. 80
    The music is dizzying, even mesmerizing.
  5. Keys's tunes sing as strongly as she does. Alas, she still relies too often on sloganeering.
  6. This is a record that will happen to you, and when it clicks, the realisation that As I Am is a genuine classic is overwhelming.
  7. Despite Perry's penchant for bland mantras, her American Idol-ready songs best showcase Keys' husky range and position her in a mainstream light.
  8. 'Like You'll Never See Me Again' is a reminder, amidst the clutter of many cooks on As I Am, that perhaps Keys was best as she was, after all.
  9. 60
    The follow-up to 2003's "The Diary Of Alicia Keys" has lots of confidence and volume, but less of the shades in between. [Dec 2007, p.98]
  10. As I Am sees the piano songstress breaking free of her saccharine chains and delivering a streetwise, smoky set of real soul.
  11. Without any clever arrangements or production gimmicks to rely on, Keys tries to compensate for the obvious shortcomings by oversinging each syllable in a way that would make Patti LaBelle cringe.
  12. For the most part, the lyrics are so reliant on stock phrases - 'feel your touch', 'hold me', 'shoulda known', etc--that you could read anything you like into them without them carrying any personal feeling at all. If you can listen to that fluting, fierce, clear, dirty, magnificent voice while simultaneously shutting out the banality of what it's expressing, you'll have hours of pleasure from this gorgeously melodic, curiously old-fashioned album.
  13. Alicia Keys’ third studio album is an exercise in tightening the screws.
  14. Lacking the chutzpah of Beyonce or a signature voice to rival Mary J Blige, it's another curiously polite mix of soul and pop hip hop. [Dec 2007, p.118]
  15. Despite substantial input from Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, the rapper boyfriend Keys says she made wait a year to get down, the prevailing mood is reflectively soulful and the prevailing tempo mid.
  16. Keys isn't quite a superwoman come to save R&B from itself, but the timeless quality of As I Am is right on time.
  17. 80
    On her melodically powerful third studio album, she matures into the matriarch of her genre. [Dec 2007, p.120]
  18. Despite the consistency--the one area in which she's improved--it's almost certainly the weakest and most irrelevant album she's produced.
  19. Her fourth album starts well with the flashing anger of 'Go Ahead,' but only the Stax-sampling 'Where Do We Go From Here' is half as interesting.
  20. As I Am radiates not just confidence but also experience. On the whole it’s her strongest effort yet.
  21. 40
    This seems geared for maximum market penetration rather than songwriting excellence. [Jan 2008, p.91]
  22. As I Am--very much an album about the condition her condition is in, very much an album in the old-fashioned sense, a complete work: one you shouldn't subject to shuffle before you've given Keys's sequencing a chance to work its magic, its rising and falling arcs, its gut-punch-and-goose-bumps denouement.
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 73 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
  1. LuisG.
    Feb 20, 2008
    8
    NO ONE is a powerful song keys deliverance is better that ever mature and secure.... some misteps " superwoman" flaws a perfect album... NO ONE is a powerful song keys deliverance is better that ever mature and secure.... some misteps " superwoman" flaws a perfect album... lesson learned with john mayer is amazing... KEY TRACKS: wreckless love, the thing about you, i need you. Full Review »
  2. Alexandra-
    Feb 4, 2008
    9
    Very good album, I like very much songs like 'No one', 'Like you'll never see me again', 'Tell you Very good album, I like very much songs like 'No one', 'Like you'll never see me again', 'Tell you something', 'The thing about love'...and a great voice, probably the best;)...keep doing your thing, Alicia...Succes! Full Review »
  3. ReeseM.
    Dec 4, 2007
    7
    Shae could have done better, but what I want to know is why is Tre Songz not on this site he has one of the best albums of the year.