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The Element of Freedom
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a great album for tweens and teens eager to listen to some R&B tunes. Unlike many pop divas today, Alicia Keys doesn't use sexual innuendo or sexy images to get her point across. Sure this album is all about love and relationships, but most of the songs present positive female images. A few references to going to bed with someone and touching them pale in comparison to most modern pop songs, and Keys' musical arrangements should present a nice alternative to the over-produced, synthesized vocals most kids are used to.
What's the story?
It's a softer side to Alicia Keys on her latest release, THE ELEMENT OF FREEDOM, as the singer/songwriter tackles depression, vulnerability, want, and longing, all while adding some unique sounds courtesy of vintage keyboards. The album itself will go down in history not for its antique instruments, but its technological breakthrough, as the first album to stream completely via an application on Facebook.
Is it any good?
Sometimes an album will feature a few stellar tracks and a whole lot of filler, but it's obvious that Alicia Keys wasn't phoning in any of these tracks. The R&B diva has never been one to hold back on emotion, but this release in particular appears extremely raw and accessible. Tracks like "Love is Blind" and "Doesn't Mean Anything" are beautifully arranged, and as a whole, the album performs a nice balancing act between bluesy jazz and straight-up pop. There's a whole lot of longing on this album, but fans of the genre couldn't ask for much more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about healthy romantic relationships. It's okay to fall head over heels for someone, but can that emotion be taken too far? Can falling in love distract you from other parts of your life or make you forget your own identity? Do you see women falling into this trap more than men in the media? Do you think TV shows and movies present an image of sex and relationships that tweens and teens try to emulate?
Families can talk about good role models. Do you think Alicia Keys is a good model for young girls? Why or why not? How does she differ from other female pop stars?
How can you separate appropriate lyrics from iffy content? Should you judge an album by its cover, or is it important to investigate all of the songs?
This album made history on Facebook as the first album to stream completely via an application. Do you think social networking sites might become the new source for music? How will that change the music business and your activity level on these sites?