Monday, November 9, 2009
Oh, Amerie. I waited for this. I was excited. I thought, and reasonably so, that this new album would be a continuation of Because I Love It, your best, and most elusive release (it didn't even drop in the States and was basically unreleased elsewhere since there was no press or promo done for it). I assumed it would be filled with all the things that make me love you so much: blaring horns, songs that Beyoncé probably should have done in 2003, a sassy exuberance that can really only come from a person when they genuinely love the music they are making (have you heard the unrelenting joy she exudes on Because I Love It's Sam and Dave sampling jam "Gotta Work"? Fucking contagious) and a kind of underdog mentality that stems from the fact that she never really became a public favorite. But no.
Maybe it was the move to Def Jam. Maybe it was the reuniting with longtime producer Rich Harrison, who helped define her sound but was absent from her last album, and apparently for the best. Or maybe, in an effort to effectively recycle elements of Because, she managed to dilute its essence into an album that only offers two stand out tracks (lead single "Why R U" and the stellar "More Than Love" which has her and Fabulous beefing over a lush and punchy Kool and the Gang riff).
The first half is upbeat and sort of a lazy version of what it should be, while the second half is syrupy and very I Am Sasha Fierce. Did people at her new label tell her to go more mainstream? To tone down the raw funk and soul that defined her style of R&B? To essentially, dumb it down? Because what we are left with here is an album that doesn't sound at all like Amerie. Redoing Mint Condition's "Pretty Brown Eyes" with Trey Songz? Employing the use of Lil' Wayne? Synth lines? Power ballads? What the fuck. Even the cover art is uninspired.
I'm going to go listen to "1 Thing" on repeat.