Album Review: Amerie - In Love & War

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 12:46 PM

Artist: Amerie
Album: In Love & War
Release Date: 11.03.09

Since she first stepped on the scene with her 2002 debut, a few things have been evident about Amerie: she loves drums, she has a round-the-way-girl approach, and she’s NOT a powerhouse vocalist. Still, her limited range has always served her well in delivering love songs and tales of the heartbreak. With her Def Jam debut however, she reached for a grungier, grittier sound, more raw and revealing. The result is not quite where it should be, a misshapen attempt at mixing alternative rock sounds with R&B. In Love & War suffers from a lack of depth, and with 3 projects already behind her (one overseas release), it's about time she dug a little deeper.

Similar to her previous releases, Amerie’s strength still lies in her percussion-heavy hip shakers like the tribal-inspired single Heard ‘Em All and the opening cut Tell Me You Love Me. The other highlights on the album are the songs that offer some contrast to Amerie’s vocals, including Trey Songz on the Mint-Condition sampled Pretty Brown and Fabolous’ verse on More Than Love. Higher evokes the rocker-side, very Kravitz-type sound and is a decent song, as is the standout ballad Different People.

On many of the offerings here, the production outshines the star. While the melodies and arrangements reach the intended effect, it’s the vocals and even the lyrical flow that fall short. Dear John is everything a ballad should be, but when Amerie’s vocals are added, the track seems to falter a bit. The same holds true on The Flowers – both songs are just missing the crucial element that makes a ballad – the pure emotion. Beyond all that, Amerie is far too deep in her career to still have such surface-level content. There’s no connection with the listener beyond the dance numbers.

The album is very hit-and-miss and even the hits are mediocre at best. Amerie’s new home at Def Jam have brought about a new sound that has great potential for her vocal style, but fall just short of making hit records. From the vivid album art, I expected to hear a more soulful and eclectic style – I was halfway satisfied. Eclectic style is present, soul and depth missed the bus, and Amerie’s In Love & War misses the mark…

Sound-Savvy rates In Love & War with 2.5 out of 5 platinum headphones.

2 comments and counting...

  1. Anonymous Said,

    the album as a wholee is really solid

    the totally LIVE sound is something she is really brave for doing.... n yeahh .. the lack of vocal editing and stuff at time does work against her on a few songs ( Dear John mostly)

    but the music itself is really great

    Posted on October 28, 2009 at 10:28 AM

  2. A.Smith Said,

    I try not to do this to artists; I understand the importance of growth and trying new things, but I'm truly waiting on another "All I Have."

    Posted on November 2, 2009 at 10:11 AM


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