Keys & Blige: 2 Loveless Artists in One Review

The Element of Freedom – After a brief snippet, in which Keys’ speaks of a budding flower as a metaphor for freedom, the album enters boldly into its first song ‘Love Is Blind’, and then takes a misstep with ‘Doesn’t Mean Anything’. Things begin to sound better quickly with ‘Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart’, arguably the album’s most memorable effort, along with ‘Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down’.

Alicia blunders again on ‘Wait Til You See My Smile’, and then recovers ever so slightly with ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’. Then, the groovy and soulful rhythm of ‘Un-thinkable (I’m Ready)’ kicks in, and Elements of Alicia’s Freedom finally begins to level out musically in its misguided concept; compositionally, the album ventures in too many directions for one’s taste, and is lackluster in its delivery most times.

Score: 2 of 5 stars

Stronger with Each TearStronger’s opener, ‘Tonight’, is a suitable club banger, which segues jazzily into Mary’s commercial hit ‘The One’, featuring Canadian artist Drake. The sounds get tastier on ‘Said and Done’, a delicious production from music producer Ryan Leslie, executed brilliantly by Mary, still reigning queen of Hip-hop/R&B. Then there is the disco-driven ‘Good Love’ featuring rapper T.I., and the feel-good inspirational/confessional ‘I Feel Good’, one of Tear’s stronger presentations.

Then, ‘Stronger’ gets weaker fast, as Mary dwells tiredly on love lost themes and heartbreak, with the uninspiring composition from production team Stargate, on ‘I Am’. Tear’s hits a high-note again with ‘Each Tear’, orchestrated gorgeously by Jamaican record producer Supa Dups, sung beautifully by Blige. Stronger goes down yet another notch in strength when Mary again assuages lovelessness, that frankly, a woman of her stature and caliber should rise above and fare better, leaving to younger, inexperienced, less talented divas.

Score: 3 of 5 stars

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