Album review: Amerie - In love & war

Album review: Amerie - In love & war
Amerie has released two albums since she stepped out with her smash hit "1 thing". But you probably wouldn't have guessed that, given how both albums got chronically pushed back and hot-shitted on by her record labels. F**k knows why. Because just as Because I love it had enough going on for it to be a hit and featured a song which could have been an absolute smash, the same goes for In love & war. Some bitches just can't catch breaks, can they!? I know some of you are inclined to blame Beyoncé, but it's not her fault.

Ever since "1 thing" Amerie's style has been very much a throwback to 60's, 70's funk and Go-go; to the point where you could say it's her signature. She throws this at you straight away with the albums first few cuts. First up is "Tell me you love me". It's not an amazing song. I skip the shit without fail. In love & war starts from track 2 for me. But it's loud and catchy enough that it will catch your attention. Follow up "Heard 'em all" is a little bit better. But Sean Garrett's lyrics make the song feel a little dirty, because he has Amerie singing about the kinda shit she doesn’t normally. Amerie has never sung a song about a Louis bag and having n***a's put it on her before. Sean Garrett pretty much dumbs Amerie downer. Not that Amerie has ever been the deepest lyricist; but you can certainly hear the choke hold he had over this songs' lyrics. That said, it's still a hot song. Catchy, slickly produced and featuring those signature Amerie vocal riffs that only she could pull off in a song. "Dangerous" is the first song on the album which had me think Okay, now this is some hotness worthy of the iPod! It features a sample that many J-Pop fans may recognize from BoA's "Lose your mind". "Dangerous" feels stripped down and as though it's lacking the same level of polish and additional production that BoA's "Lose your mind" featured. But it is a catchy song and your atypical Amerie joint. "Higher" is easily one of the best songs on the album, and probably one of Amerie's best songs. It's so damn funky, catchy and different from what others bitches were doing on radio at the time In love & war dropped, that I cannot believe it was not made a single. Warryn Campbell did an amazing job with the production. I had no idea he could drop joints like this.

Amerie begins to hit with some soul during the albums middle section, starting with "Why R U". This was not a song I was keen on to begin with. In fact, I still think it's kinda whack. The only thing I like about it are Amerie's signature vocal drops on the hook. As an album cut it fits in nicely. But Def Jam f**ked up by releasing it as a lead single. "Pretty brown" throws up the first collaboration of the album with R&B crooner cum R. Kelly impersonator Trey Songz. I was surprised to hear how good Amerie and Trey's voices sound together. Their vocals are arranged nicely, intertwine at all the right parts, making the song feel like a genuine collabo and not a song where one artist phones in a verse and calls it a day. Fabolous marks the second collab on the album for the laid back "More than love", which acts as In love & war's "Rolling down my face". Fabolous' rap is a nice touch, and feels relevant to the song after the in-song-skit between he and Amerie right before he begins to spit his bars. "Swag back" is Amerie's first big female empowerment anthem, and it's an absolute banger! The beat on the hook is plain hood and has a very DJ Toomp vibe about it, which was just begging for a guest feature from T.I.

"Red eye" kicks off the albums' final slow segment of the album, and things don't get much slinky and sexier than this. The beat on this song is so bloody seductive. It literally is just 4 minutes of sex. Amerie's lazy 'n breathless vocals do a great job of selling the sex, and making you believe that she'd straddle you on a coach flight and grind it out the second folks around you fall asleep. "The flowers" shouldn't work, but it does, and rather nicely too. Amerie's vocals are not the strongest. It's on the down-tempo songs where her vocal limitations are pushed into the spotlight. And whilst her vocals on "The flowers" aren't perfect and hit a couple of notes that make you squint and wince; something about them just works on this song. It may be the believability in Amerie's heartfelt delivery, or that the production on the song is so nice. But despite Amerie's vocal shortcomings on the song, it holds together nicely. "Dear John" is the weakest link, purely because it sounds so un-Amerie and is in the vein of what other bandwagoning ho's in the game would go for. It has that Stargate-esque sound and lyrics of how some n***a is gonna be left alone because he didn't show enough love all the while some other n***a did. If there's one song on the album which conforms; it's this one. And it does the album no favours. From a commercial aspect it could have made a good third or fourth single though. That's if Def Jam could actually be arsed to bother with giving another light skinned chick a chance at some success.

In love & war's songs don't jump out and smack you in the face as they did on Touch, with Rich Harrison's penchant for obnoxiously hard hitting and catchy productions. But Amerie delivers an album which features a nice amount of solid songs, all of which showcase that what she brought to the table with Touch was no fluke. Amerie has more than proved that she very much has her own distinct style, and that as an artist she knows her sound and how to sell it; even if her record labels don't have a clue how to themselves.

In love & war is Amerie's most consistent album, and possibly one of her better efforts for it.

Album highlights:
■ Heard 'em all
■ Dangerous
■ Higher J's fave
■ Pretty brown
■ More than love
■ Swag back
■ Red eye
■ The flowers


  1. Surprised Different People and Your A Star weren't mentioned. Those were some of my favs.

    When I look back at her past albums I feel like this one could have been much better. What's missing is some strong and memorable ad-libs that she would always have from the middle to the end of her songs. On her other albums most of the songs would contain them. It would sound like she was pouring her heart up on those songs. Not saying I want her to do the same thing with every song. Some tracks like Red Eye and Heard 'Em All would feel cluttered if she went in with the ad-libs, but many other songs could have been better if added.

    She changed up Dangerous lyrics for the worst, but she did nail the ending. Lil Eddie's one:

    I was on this album like crazy when I first heard, but now it's just good. Swag Back and Higher are probably some of her best songs throughout her career, but her other albums fit together better than this 1.


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