Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. 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.
  2. Keys delivers a musically understated but richly passionate set of soul paeans to being in love, out of love, lovelorn and pining for her man to return.
  3. After so many highlights, the duds feel inconsequential, easily bypassed. Only when Keys panders to Top 40 radio does the album truly stumble, sounding like a hodgepodge of transparent ideas.
  4. It's her most consistent album and also her most low-key.
  5. It's surely a compliment to suggest that someone as abundantly gifted as she is can do better than this enjoyable, occasionally brilliant but disappointingly generic record.
  6. Keys' material is ultimately about the slow reveal, not the instant blitz. If Element asks for patience, it also earns it.
  7. After the all-too-human ups and downs she's experienced through the rest of the album, ultimately she comes out of it sounding pretty, well, super.
  8. It's far from a shock but definitely a disappointment to watch Ms. Trained Pianist survey her branding options and choose the bland card over the brains card.
  9. Throughout the album's remaining 13 tracks, the experience is not unlike watching a flower bloom in time-lapse; this one's about Keys stepping away from safety, and the whole thing benefits beautifully from her sense of daring.
  10. While R&B artists clamour for synth-heavy, layered production by The-Dream, Danja and Jim Jonsin, Keys proves a hit album can still be made using conventional means.
  11. The Element of Freedom is just really well-made elevator music. It's boring, soulless, and pretentious.
  12. On The Element of Freedom, the production compresses her voice, making it sound a lot less like her, especially on the ballads.
  13. With so few highlights, an unwieldy 52-minute runtime, and a second half nearly devoid of strong material, Freedom doesn't begin to contend with that release--or indeed, even many of those by Keys's objectively less talented contemporaries.
  14. Jan 14, 2011
    In most of these dozen tracks (not including a ponderous intro regarding the necessity of risk and a slow-jam sequel to Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind") Keys seems uninterested in breaking new ground, snooze-controlling her way through a series of familiar piano-soul platitude.
  15. But all that queenliness, and the sameness of the tempo, start to wear you down. It's not until the 10th track, "Put It in a Love Song," that the record starts to bristle with a less regal impulse: flirting.
  16. 60
    Her fourth, The Element of Freedom, is full of straightforward pleas for affection that are neither outstanding nor run-of-the-mill.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 67 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 3 out of 20
  1. Mar 18, 2011
    This album sounds different from everything she's done so far and it seems to be the reason why people either love or hate it. I love it. It's more pop and electronic than the usual stuff but it's still Alicia Keys. She's trying out something else, let the girl bloom! Full Review »
  2. Sep 28, 2010
    For already fans of her, there is a lot to enjoy here. But for those looking smooth polished tracks like Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart will be disappointed. However, her voice and unique style shines all the way through the album as well as she always done. Tracks like Doesn't Mean Anything, Wait Till You See My Smile, and Put It in a Love Song are definitely also highlights of Alicia's great vocals and compositions. Put in a Love Song as a collaboration with Beyonce, is quite disappointing due to the poor lyrics and overall sound that could have been bigger considering how amazing these girls are. But that aside, is still a nice track and an overall really nice album to relax and have a great time. Full Review »
  3. Aug 11, 2010
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. As an album The Element Of Freedom it's not great but has some perfect musics. In my opinion LOVE IS BLIND, TRY SLEEPING WITH A BROKEN HEART and UN-THINKABLE (I'M READY) are perfect songs, that can balance some duds like Love is my disease, Like the sea and This bed. Full Review »