May 15, 2007

Album Review

A pair of Top Ten albums and Top Ten R&B singles to match. You'd think Amerie's path would be without obstacles going forward, but album number three -- this one -- was left unreleased in the States. In other territories, where it was released, it was left to rot. It's a shame; the album is loaded. The amicable and possibly temporary split between Amerie and her primary producer, Rich Harrison, might've been a cause for some concern, but this set of songs is altogether more colorful and varied than both All I Have and Touch. It's almost excessively generous, provided you are able to keep up and absorb a set of songs that, sequentially, is of exceptionally distinct halves. The all-too-brief intro, the Clutch collaboration "Hate 2 Love U," "Make Me Believe," the Cee-Lo co-production "Take Control," and "Gotta Work" are all restlessly upbeat, dishing out prancing horns (sampled and synthetic), tumbling/crashing drum breaks, zipping organs, and other '60s/'70s soul-funk authenticators. Mighty Dog Haynes, Kool & the Gang, Curtis Mayfield, Bob James, and Tom Zé are all part of that mix. Each one of the songs is an energy rush, and it can be overbearing to be confronted by the boundlessly enthusiastic voices of a woman who is thrilled to be making music and isn't afraid to sound like it. That only accounts for the majority of the album's first half. The first half's other two songs, the Malcolm McLaren-sampling "Some Like It" (a gooey mess, like a candy-shop paella) and "Crush" (a late-'80s freestyle throwback, clipped synthetic orchestra hits and all), point the way toward the second half, where there's a lot more breathing room. "Crazy Wonderful" and "That's What U R" are both dream pop through and through; the former could trick those who don't know better into thinking it's a remake of something off SWV's It's About Time, while the latter is one of the better latter-day neo-Neptunes productions. Though a couple ballads are middling, Amerie's efficiency is unwavering, and any of their shortcomings are made forgivable by "Paint Me Over," where her accusations are as stinging as her resignations are disarming. What's most impressive about the album is how Amerie lassoes each song, whether it requires salt, sugar, heartache, delight, or any combination thereof. She is the only female singer on the album, and hearing her backgrounds dance and swim around her leads is as moving as anything else in modern R&B. That a fully opened booklet or CD case displays a sextet of Ameries is perhaps unintentionally emblematic.
Andy Kellman, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Forecast Intro
  2. Forecast
  3. Hate 2 Love U
  4. Hate 2 Love U
  5. Some Like It
  6. Some Like It
  7. Make Me Believe
  8. Make Me Believe
  9. Take Control
  10. Take Control
  11. Gotta Work
  12. Gotta Work
  13. Crush
  14. Crush
  15. Crazy Wonderful
  16. Crazy Wonderful
  17. That's What U R
  18. That's What U R
  19. When Loving You Was Easy
  20. When Loving U Was Easy
  21. Paint Me Over
  22. Paint Me Over
  23. Somebody Up There
  24. Somebody Up There
  25. All Roads
  26. All Roads
  27. 1 Thing [*]
  28. 1 Thing [*]
  29. Losing U [*]
  30. Losing You [*]
  31. Take Control [*]
  32. Take Control [*]
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