It's been quite a road leading to Amerie's third US release In Love & War. Four years ago, I really got into her Touch album & her chemistry with producer Rich Harrison couldn't be denied. Now on a different label, Amerie announced she wasn't working with Harrison on In Love & War, so I was unsure of what to expect from it. As for the singles, I was split because I wasn't too fond of the first "Why R U," but I found the second, "Heard 'Em All," blazing hot. In Love & War has its ups & downs as well, but the project finds Amerie, well, finding herself.
She kicks off the album with a series of bangers, the first being "Tell Me You Love Me." It's a good one, but a bit overwhelming as an introduction. Next up is "Heard 'Em All," which you already know I love & made for a perfect pre-album, reintroduction single. I wish "Dangerous" was a little longer because it features some killer instrumentation, as does its follow-up "Higher," appropriately one of the album's highlights. Amerie is showing off her confidence on this one & she is at her best when she does that.
First single "Why R U" is alright, but just never managed to really connect with me. Improvement can be found on "Pretty Brown" despite featured artist Trey Songz, but she gets back off track a little with the Fabolous-assisted "More Than Love." The midtempo is enjoyable, but that unique voice of hers that serves as an advantage on songs like "Higher" is a bit of a hindrance here. Unfortunately, for someone with so much swag, "Swag Back" isn't much to write home about.
The cool "You're A Star" interlude helps transition In Love & War into a slower section. The first of those slow jams is "Red Eye," which must be a grower because I didn't think much of it when it leaked, but now I love it! She smooths out those vocals brilliantly on parts like "and fly with meee." I like "The Flowers" too, as it has Amerie using those chops like she did earlier in her career. The album kinda falls off here for me because "Different People" is just ok & while "Dear John" isn't horrible, it doesn't fit to end an album with such strong songs toward the beginning with such mediocrity. I will, however, add a few points for the bonus remix of "Heard 'Em All" featuring Lil' Wayne. He's a great fit to the track & makes it that much hotter. Now, if only their video for it had been out for a month or so already.
In general, the faster the tempo, the better Amerie sounds. That's not to say In Love & War doesn't have its highlights across the board. I can give it some credit in that some of the non-standout tracks sound better while listening to the album as a whole. Although I don't think Amerie managed to recreated the chemistry she has with Rich Harrison with any of the producers here, as I mentioned earlier, In Love & War does find Amerie coming into her own by experimenting with some different sounds, some of which turned out great. In the end, she is a talent, as displayed pretty well here, that shouldn't go unnoticed.
Rating: 4/5 Stars