The third full-length from contemporary R&B diva Alicia Keys is called AS I AM, a title that adequately reflects the album's straightforward, confessional soul-pop. Keys built her popularity making stylish, reflective, voice-and-piano music; AS I AM continues that trend, albeit in a poppier vein that balances neatly between neo-soul and adult contemporary. This is reflected in the midtempo grooves, songs of empowerment ("Superwoman"), and stirring ballads ("The Thing About Love"). Keys' collaborators on the album include songwriter Linda Perry, who co-wrote three of the album's tracks, and John Mayer, who twines voices with Keys on the sensual "Lesson Learned." Top-notch arrangements, which include gorgeous, retro-tinged flourishes via strings and horns, make the set shimmer, but it's the strength of the hook-heavy tunes and Keys' moving performances that make AS I AM stick. It's not the five-star album she's capable of, but it leaves little doubt that Keys is moving steadily in that direction.
Rolling Stone (p.192) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he prevailing mood is reflectively soulful and the prevailing tempo mid."
Rolling Stone (p.114) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Top Albums of the Year 2007" -- "Keys' ever-deepening vocal power is the first thing you notice on AS I AM."
Spin (p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[O]n her melodically powerful third studio album, she matures into the matriarch of her genre."
Entertainment Weekly (p.75) - "'The Thing About Love' begins as a melancholy R&B lament and rolls into pure pop-rock uplift..." -- Grade: B
Mojo (Publisher) (p.98) - "She certainly has vocal dexterity and prodigious keyboard skills....Tracks like No One and Thing About Love become exercises in power soul..."
Blender (Magazine) (p.146) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "AS I AM advances by showing an experimental side....The music is dizzying, even mesmerizing."