Amerie’s “1 Thing” was the great summer single of 2005, an infectious hiccup of abandon that took the stuttery beat of Beyonce’s hit “Crazy in Love” to its logical freaked-out end. Both songs were produced and co-written by Rich Harrison, who oversaw Amerie’s first two albums.
On her third one, the singer goes it alone. She knows what worked for her in the past, and the opening track features that same hiccupy beat, but from there things get more interesting. Built on a Curtis Mayfield melody, “Make Me Believe” combines old-school soul with a towering synth vamp, and, if you ever wondered what Mary J. Blige might sound like if she recorded in Memphis, check out “Gotta Work.” Acting more her age (27), Amerie pulls off a perfect piece of mid-tempo dance pop in the immediately replayable “Crush,” but the designated single is “Take Control,” a bare-bones, neo-Jacko funk invention co-written by Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley, who, conspicuously, doesn’t make an appearance.
Props to Amerie for busting convention and producing an R&B album without one guest star. In fact, it was probably her A&R man’s idea to tack on “1 Thing” as a bonus track. Just in case you forgot.