Think of the songs on Amerie's fourth album, In Love & War, as audio episodes of Girlfriends or Sex & The City. Due November 3 (and initially titled "Breakups to Makeups"), it's the D.C. native's first project under Def Jam, and according to the singer, it's a study in the ups, downs and "universal truths" of relationships.
Looking beyond the wistfulness of her 2003 debut single "Why Don't We Fall In Love?" many of the topics are culled from the singer and her friends' experiences.
"I didn't really want [to sing about] any idealized version of a relationship. Like, 'Everything's been so perfect and la la la.' It's not like la-la land," Amerie told VIBE last night, standing outside Mr. Chow in Tribeca. "It's more like: Been through some things and it didn't work out, going through some things and it might not work out, or everything has worked out and everything's great now because we went through some things."
With its hard East Coast beat--record scratches and all--the Buchanans-produced lead single "Why R U?" begs for a New York rapper cameo. And it gets a pair, with Nas and Jadakiss hopping on the remix.
Most of the disc, originally set to drop in August before delays, favors the heavy drums and live instrumentation that has become Amerie's staple (see: "1 Thing"), along with a bit of funk.
"I wanted something mean. I wanted something hard and aggressive with a lot of swagger," Amerie says of the overall sound. "Sonically, it's very hip-hop, rock, and soul. And when I say rock, some people think alternative but it's not that. It's actually late '60s, early '70s rock, like rock-and-roll when it was still very rooted in the blues and very soulful."
A sampler of In Love & War contains a snippet of Amerie's favorite track, "Higher," helmed by Warren Campbell ("Do you feel like a man/'Cause you got my heart in your hands/And you took me high as you can/Higher just to drop me off"), and the equally assertive "Tell Me You Love Me." Other producers include Jim Jonsin, Teddy Riley and Sean Garrett, and the tracks "Heard 'Em All" and "Pretty Brown" have already leaked.
"I think a lot of people will relate to [the album]," Amerie says. "Some things are just textbook how it happens to everyone." -Clover Hope