R&B/pop songstress Ciara has unleashed her eponymous fifth full-length via Epic Records.
Previously known as One Woman Army, Ciara features 10 original jams from the Austin, Texas-born recording artist, including featured singles "I'm Out," "Body Party" and "Livin It Up." The iTunes version of the set will include one additional track. The LP features production from the likes of Cam Wallace, D'Mile, Darkchild, Mike WiLL Made It, Rock City, Soundz and The Co-Captains, and packs guest appearances by such big names as Future and Nicki Minaj.
Ciara Album Review
There have been recent rumblings of a relationship with fellow ATLien Future, and his fingerprints are all over the album. He appears on two tracks and has writing credits for another, but his influence is evident throughout. First single Body Party was co-written by Future, and features some soft coos from him as well. Body Party is one of only a few on the album that belong in the “steamy, sexy” lane that Ciara seems to own when she wants to. Producer of the moment Mike Will slows down 90s staple My Boo by the Ghost Town DJ’s with exceptional results, which pairs perfectly with Ciara’s airy vocals.
Where You Go, which features a chorus from Future, could have just as easily been a Future track featuring Ciara. That isn’t to take away from the song though, as it has a nice, acoustic leaning beat, also produced by Mike Will, and is ultimately an effective and catchy ballad. Future and a third ATLien, B.o.B., give quick 16s on album closer, Body Party (Remix). While not a bad song, I have a personal gripe when artists throw barely altered from the original remixes on albums, especially as the closer, and one as slim (Ciara contains 11 tracks), as this one.
And as long as we’re talking features, Nicki Minaj, one of only four guests on the album, appears on opener I’m Out. Production duo Rock City serves the ladies a solid, club-oriented instrumental, which Nicki’s double-time flow sounds great over. Ciara may take a back seat on track one, but she shines a few tracks later on Keep on Lookin’. With an aggressive southern attitude that only Ciara can pull off and a funky instrumental that sounds like it was made on Mars, Keep on Lookin’ is a sure highlight of the album.
A self-titled album is expected to bring along with it some depth, some emotion, maybe a personal story or two. Ciara lacks depth, providing the listener with little to no information on who Ciara is. After four albums, why name your fifth Ciara if not to act as a personal statement? A window into who you are as a person, as an artist, as a lover or as a heartbreaker. Read My Lips and Overdose, for instance, seemingly could have been made by anybody with an ounce of musical talent, certainly as much as someone like Ciara.
Ultimately, Ciara is a lean, enjoyable collection of tunes steeped in the deep bass and funk sounds of the south. It certainly leans towards the club, and could improve with a few more of the steamy R&B songs that Ciara is so good at, but it does so in a more innovative and fresh way than most. The album is most successful when Ciara takes center stage. When she swaggers as only she could. The 18-year-old girl with a sexy image and some Goodies has grown up into an artist capable of holding down an album. Though at times she panders to the club a bit much, and doesn’t provide quite the depth that is expected of a self-titled album and an artist on her fifth go around, Ciara is filled with a fun batch of songs. And if that means it simply contains more potential singles than her previous albums, than an album full of singles is better than an album full of a goodie or two, but mostly duds.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins