In Love & War (released November 3, 2009)
If you’re a longtime GeorgiaMae reader, you know three things about me:
1. I think Keith Sweat should be running our country.
2. I hate Snuggies.
3. I love Amerie.
My relationship with Amerie is strictly platonic, by the way. But how can you not love the girl? Her three albums – 2002’s All I Have, 2005’s Touch and 2007’s Because I Love It – are all absolutely tremendous. Despite a very strong catalogue and successful singles (I still wanna know why “1 Thing” did not make her a household name) she has constantly been overshadowed the Sasha Fierces and Rih-Rihs of the industry.
Now that she has made the switch from Columbia Records to Def Jam, I guess In Love & War is her latest attempt to grasp superstardom. Sadly, that’s the biggest problem with the album.
Amerie has always bucked trends, which is why it hurt me to hear the gimmicky “Heard ‘Em All.” It’s what’s all wrong with many of today’s singles – reaching the masses by yelling over a noisy beat. Don’t ask me why she felt the need to channel Shabba Ranks with a fake Jamaican accent on the track. And just to make SURE this song makes it to the radio, the “Heard ‘Em All Remix” features Lil Wayne prattling on about how he wants to get with every girl in the world. Where have we heard that before?
Remember what I said about reaching the masses? “Swag Back,” roughly the 3,000th “swag” song to be released this year, sounds like a ghetto Jordin Sparks song with its played out hand claps and lame lyrics. And speaking of ghetto, the only thing interesting about “More Than Love” with Fabolous is the hilarious fight that breaks out mid-song.
If it seems like I’m being tough on A it’s only because we’re harsher on those we love. There are certainly bright spots – “Why R U” is vintage Amerie. It’s full of energy and sounds totally unique – you’ll be running red lights if you listen to it in while driving. It’s one of my favorite songs of the year.
I mentioned “Pretty Brown” in a post last week and it’s a little easier to swallow on repeat listens. Thankfully, the album really picks up during the last few tracks, including the slow burner “The Flowers” and “Dear John,” a break-up letter that makes me wonder if it’s directed at her former record label.
As with Jadakiss and a couple of other artists this year, Amerie’s switch in creative direction could ostracize her loyal fans in her search for a new audience. I hope it works out for her. Meanwhile, I’ll just reminisces about the love we had.
Best tracks: “Why R U,” “The Flowers,” “Pretty Brown”
3.5 stars out of 5