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Review: Amerie - 'In Love & War'

Bright & Powerful

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

Review: Amerie - 'In Love & War'
© Def Jam Recordings.
After seeing her star begin to fade the past few years, pop-R&B diva Amerie gets back on the right track with her fourth album, In Love & War, which was released in the U.S. on Nov. 3, 2009. Moving to the Def Jam label has definitely done her some good, and it shows in every aspect of the album. Not only is her singing bright and powerful, but her team of song producers manage to find the right backing tracks for her vocal style, plus there's a strong theme that carries well throughout the album. In Love & War is a hip, energetic album that properly showcases her singing talent. In other words, Amerie is back.

An Artist Rejuvinated

Amerie's last album, 2007's Because I Love It, was so weak that it played a big part in her split with Sony Music; the label had so little confidence in it that it was pushed back numerous times and received very little promotion in the U.S. So it was understandable that some people were thinking that her star time was about over. But on In Love & War, she shows that the predictions of her career's demise were very much premature.

In truth, the album's concept - the ups and downs of a romantic relationship - is nothing new. And none of the singles that have been released so far have performed particularly well. But this is the kind of album that needs to be listend to as a whole and from beginning to end; there's not a lot of gimmicky ringtone R&B tracks here. As mentioned above, the album tells the story of a romance from it's thrilling, hopeful beginning (the upbeat, confident "Tell Me You Love Me") to it's sorrowful, almost bitter end (the piano-laced ballad "Dear John"). In between, all the thrills and emotions of a relationship are explored, including infatuation ("Why R U"), trust issues ("More Than Love," featuring Fabolous) and nostalgia for the good times ("Pretty Brown," a sort-of homage to Mint Condition's 1991 hit "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)" which features Trey Songz).

Uplifting Self Empowerment

© Def Jam Recordings.
One of the album's best songs is "Swag Back," on which Amerie recovers her self confidence after a turbulent time. In addition to it's role within the context of the album, the track can also be seen as a metaphor for her career struggles, and how's she's managed to overcome them: "I finally got my swag back, so I don't need that broken heart no more, you can have that, 'cause baby I got my swag back." It's an uplifting song of self empowerment that many women will definitely gain strength from and find inspiration in.

One of the more impressive things about the album is the track production. Amerie's best-known song to date is the Rich Harrison-produced dance track "1 Thing," and although there's probably not a single song on the album that will be as successful as that song was, the producers she works with here - Teddy Riley, Warryn Campbell, Sean Garrett and Bryan-Michael Cox, among others - managed to serve some backing tracks that fit her strong, unique singing style, instead of trying to shoehorn her voice into songs that don't suit her. What's more, Amerie manages to vocally glide over a number of different musical genres - pop, hip-hop, R&B and rock - and sound comfortable doing it. To put it simply, as a whole, this album is probably Amerie's best, most well-rounded work to date.

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