By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
It's Me Again
The blazingest joint on R&B radio right now is Amerie's "One Thing," from the Hitch soundtrack. Over madhouse percussion that producer Rich Harrison must've found languishing on his "Crazy in Love" outtake reel, Amerie laments hard about the shift that occurred in her heart after whatever's implied by the title took place between her and her man. The tune tantalizes with what it leaves unspoken, a bit like "Oops (Oh My)," the 2002 hit by Missy Elliott protégé Tweet, in which the singer sang slyly about late-night masturbation over Timbaland's narcoleptic corkscrew bump.
Because Tweet is 34 and invites her daughter to sing on a track from It's Me Again, her second album, she's unlikely to ever have the blazingest joint on R&B radio. We Americans are uncomfortable with grown-up female sexuality not of the self-love variety. (Notwithstanding Desperate Housewives, don't underestimate the reverse-MILF gross-out effect underpinning the indie-rock community's lukewarm reception of Liz Phair.) Also, Tweet doesn't really do blazing; musically, hers is a chilly after-hours vibe that seduces with inflection and nuance, as opposed to spectacle--not unlike much neo-soul, but with Elliott's high-tech sheen standing in for James Poyser's electric-piano fetish. (Remember the video for "Oops"? Straight-up Pier 1 igloo steez.)
It's Me Again extends the floe. In "Iceberg," Tweet (whose real name, Charlene Keys, is so neo-soul it should come with an accent or an apostrophe) unwisely falls in with an unresponsive lug. Her words indicate emotional tumult, but her tightly controlled singing, as well as the track's slow-mo acoustic-guitar plucks, suggest a more interior experience; you only hear the heartbreak in a half-articulated "you" or a quick flash of brass. "Turn Da Lights Off," the album's Elliott-produced lead single, is slightly more assertive, with vinyl scratching and a dizzy string sample, but it still exudes an undercover passion. In her verse, Elliott yearns to make tonight "right like a first-class flight"--not, y'know, a dusk-to-dawn fuckfest. "Cab Ride" is the loveliest cut: Over airy fake-flute trills and, yep, sweet electric-piano ooze, Tweet asks her driver for a ride to her honey's home. She's not crazy in love; she just needs this one thing.
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