Alicia Keys Explains Why Love Is Theme Of The Element of Freedom

'It's the one thing we can all understand,' singer told Gotham magazine.

In addition to announcing her North American tour dates on Friday, Alicia Keys recently posed for the cover of Gotham magazine's spring issue, which hits stands March 1.

Keys donned two looks in the photo shoot, one a green drop-neck gown accented with a gold collar necklace, the other a light blue one-shoulder dress complemented by a head wrap. ( has more photos from the shoot.) The New York native talked with the publication about the changes in her old neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, as well as love as the theme for her new album, The Element of Freedom.

"When I was growing up, [Hell's Kitchen] was way darker, more dismal and more like the place where all the outcasts lived," recalls Keys. "So now, to see it more like a tourist destination is really interesting. Even though Eighth Avenue was supergrungy with drug needles, Broadway always had those bright lights and it did always have endless possibilities."

As compared with the subject matter of her previous three albums, Songs in A Minor, The Diary of Alicia Keys and As I Am, Element focuses quite a bit on love, relationships and sustaining courtship's spark against all odds.

"Love does play a prominent role in the album because I believe love is the most important thing in the world," Keys said. "It's the one thing we can all understand."

Keys recently filmed a clip for her duet with fellow R&B powerhouse Beyoncé, "Put It in a Love Song," in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The video is set to premiere on March 8. In addition, the singer/songwriter kicks off the North American leg of her Freedom tour on February 26 with two days in Canada before traveling stateside to Chicago. Robin Thicke and Melanie Fiona will serve as openers for Keys. The international leg of the tour begins on April 29, with the dates to be announced.