When Amerie’s debut arrived on my desk in 2002, I didn’t bother reviewing it. The music was innocuously pleasant—it warranted neither a complaint nor a compliment—and Amerie herself was anonymous, seemingly just a voice for up-and-comer Rich Harrison, who wrote and produced the tidy affair in its entirety. Since then, Harrison has joined the in-demand ranks of The Neptunes and Timbaland, producing for superstars like Beyoncé, Usher, and Jennifer Lopez. Ironically, Harrison’s premier songstress is now likely to be deemed a copycat. The influence of Beyoncé‘s massive hit “Crazy In Love” is all over Amerie’s sophomore effort Touch—even a remix of her debut single, “Why Don’t We Fall In Love,” gets the sample-happy treatment. The infectious hit “1 Thing” is a step up from J. Lo’s second-rate “Get Right” (unlike that song, “1 Thing” is light and airy), but it still follows the formula too closely: repetitive hook, high-pitched vocal, horn-y sample (this time it’s The Meters’ “Oh, Calcutta”). Hey, Rich, it’s okay to sample something other than horns. Or how about just dropping the sampling altogether: the sleek, minimalist “Come With Me” is one of Touch‘s stand-out tracks. When a writer spends this much time talking about the album’s chief producer, the artist must be pretty damn disposable. It should be noted, however, that Amerie cut her teeth co-writing almost every song on the album, plays the flute on the Vidal Davis and Andre Harris-helmed “Just Like Me,” and takes a stab at Crunk & B on the Lil’ Jon-produced title track, her performance of which lives up to the coy, fish-netted pose on the album’s cover.
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