First Impressions: Amerie's Battlefield Of Love and Industry

Monday, November 2, 2009

True fact. Amerie is the underdog of R&B dames out there. She has released three solid albums since her arrival in 2001, yet she still is playing third fiddle in the symphony of R&B female artistry. As much as Amerie tries to push the envelope, she keeps getting "return to sender" from the music listening public. It's not like she hasn't tried, it's just that she probably is in a tug of war between trying to distinguish herself from the pack of vanilla like R&B starlets and then succumbing to being one of those vanilla starlets due to label pressures. This battle shows here on her fourth installment, the concept record, In Love & War, an album that has been highly anticipated from those who follow the camp of La Amerie.

The title of the album is proof enough of Amerie's struggle, as she is in her own private battlefield between being the ambitious artist she already is, and the mainstream artist she wants to be. In Love & War, is Amerie trying to not make the same mistake that 2007's Because I Love It took, where it was terribly distributed and marketed to the point where it became non-existent. Even though last year, Amerie ended up signing with Island Def Jam Records, a label notorious for under promoting artists, she manage to get this particular album out.

For the most part, Amerie is just as vibrant as she always is on this, and she still manages to latch the listener into some sizzling cuts. She shimmies and shakes on the blistering rock n' reel of "Higher" and you can almost feel Amerie catching a Tina Turner fever. She keeps up the pace with the boisterous "Dangerous" which clatters around a fiery skittish beat. Amerie slows the pace down the hypnotic trance of the Bryan Michael-Cox produced, "Red Eye", a stunner of a slow jam that drapes over one like an warm electric blanket, and should be single material. Personal favorite, "The Flowers", is mid-tempo ballad that is nicely constructed with old school soul vocal styles yet with an modernized twist.

In Love & War is not without its flaws as there are some abominations residing on this hybrid of rock and electro-funk. In some parts the record, Amerie gets too cute, and cute in the sense that she tries to well...conform to her peers. Forgive her, she's trying to compete with the likes of, Beyonce and Rihanna, but this is where Amerie's bite takes a nose dive. The fail hard from the opening, "Pretty Brown" features Trey Songz and tries to interlope the Mint Condition classic of the same name, and it's quite unnecessary and rather embarrassing considering when comparing it to the original. Then there is "Swag Back" which is Amerie doing her best Beyonce impression...and well, do we need another one of those?

In Love & War is a hodge-podge of a record with Amerie is bouncing around from doing the rock n' funk thing, to going hip-hop dance and back to lush electronic R&B. Not that it's frowned on, just that the album isn't consistent nor shows the singer in her best light. With the roster of such producers such as Teddy Riley, Sean Garrett and Rico Love, something is still missing and that something is a sense of direction. It's easy to see what Amerie is trying to achieve, she wants to be heard, and that's why In Love & War is so blistering and fiery in some ways because she comes on strong. Yet, she comes off too strong, as she's almost hollering on some cuts, and not really singing. That's what brings down the album, Amerie trying to out-yell her counterparts. Even though In Love & War is hit n' miss, a few cuts prove that Amerie still has a lot of pep in her step, and that's she's no quitter.

Rating: 8.0/10

Release Date: November 3, 2009


Highlights
Higher

Red Eye

The Flowers

2 comments:

  1. I love Amerie. haven't heard the album yet but she is incredibly talented. It's hard for talent to bloom in this industry and the underdogs to me are always better than the mainstream divas, IndiaArie, Laura Izibor, Jill Scott, and Amerie being one of the many. Lyrically savvy, beautiful vocals, yet very few attempting to change the way people hear there music or dive into the female sex symbol cliche.

    Amerie, I do agree has been trying. I think the inconsistency of the album is probably just a way to reach a larger crowd because obviously what she's been doing hasn't been working. I guess I would have to hear it myself to give more commentary.

    Great post..and keep up the good work. I'm a journalism major as well and something I'm very passionate about. It inspires me when people love what they do outside the curriculm.

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  2. I'll have to check for your highlights again, because on first listen I did not like this AT ALL. and I'm Team Amerie--actually loved Because I love it, musically and have some bangers on Touch. Of course All I Have is classic. I really really hate that "Heard em All". I was really anticipating this to be a banger, especially once I heard "Why R U" oh well.

    Reecie (@reeciecups)

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