When the sweet and breezy "Why Don't We Fall in Love" came out in 2002, a lot of critics were quick to discard Amerie as another attractive puppet with a capable voice who relied on producers and slick imagery. She was an inauthentic fluke, apparently, and if she were to become successful, it would have more to do with low standards -- and the inability to appreciate real female artists like Norah Jones and Alicia Keys. These were easy (and lazy) things to say, especially since the songwriting credits for Amerie's first album, All I Have, showed that the singer only had a hand in writing the one-minute outro. The majority of the work was handled by Rich Harrison, a young producer/songwriter with some Mary J. Blige credits but no big hits at that point. Between late 2002 and early 2005, Amerie's presence faded, while Harrison's became impossible to ignore, nearly mirroring Dallas Austin's rise with Boyz II Men, Another Bad Creation, and TLC. Harrison's work on Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love," Destiny's Child's "Soldier," and Jennifer Lopez's "Get Right" made him one of the most talked-about producers around, so the time became right for Amerie to hit back. Genius lead single "1 Thing," like "Crazy in Love," swings on a kinetic drum loop, this time courtesy of the Meters. It's just as exciting, flailing all over the place with unbound joy, and it's equally deserving of summertime omnipresence. Key point for sticklers with strict authenticity principles: in addition to knocking the beat out of the park with an ecstatic vocal turn, Amerie gets a songwriting credit. In fact, she had a hand in the penning of all but one track on Touch. To further emphasize the album's reliance on Amerie's talent, there are no guest MCs -- a rarity for a mainstream R&B album these days -- unless you count the Eve verse on a bonus remix. Most importantly, regardless of who's responsible, Touch has a better batch of songs than All I Have, and it seems to have ears both young and mature in mind at the same time; the mostly strong production work (Lil Jon, the Buckinghams, Bink, Red Spyda, and Dre & Vidal also take part), laced with the occasional memory-triggering sample (Roy Ayers, Jean Carn, Earth, Wind & Fire), won't hurt anyone either.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Carl Thomas