Ciara is a double-threat dancer and singer who hasn't quite found her niche since 2004's "Goodies" flooded our collective radio waves back before EDM was prevalent and Rihanna was a Good Girl Gone so Bad we all don't even remember "Pon De Replay."
And after some less than successful singles, none of which made the final cut for Ciara, the singer found a 10-track collection to drop this summer.
"I'm Out" is the most sizzling track on the record and provides arguably the best feature with Nicki Minaj's bookended verses lighting fire to an already twerk-happy anthem for getting over an ex. "If you know that you're better than the new girl that he on go 'head and tell him now, 'You gon' miss me when I'm gone'." Preach.
The teasing continues on "Keep on Lookin'" and also on "Sophomore" with some serious titular wordplay. On both tracks she offers up how her, well, offerings are on all the boys' minds ... and that if you are so lucky you won't be disappointed.
But the standout "Body Party" track, produced by her rapper boyfriend Future, has her channeling Janet Jackson's penchant for grown woman between-the-sheets music.
Plus the track creates a much better mixture of the two musicians than the cooing and somewhat outlier of a track with "Where You Go." The guitar on "Go" denotes the most adventurous sonic risk but starts to also mark where what was a nice flow of R&B sound from the rocking beginning of the CD starts to get choppy especially when looking for the odd and pretty much unsuccessful Ciara rap on "Super Turnt Up." But the track "DUI" represents a similar sentiment to "Body Party" and hits on a smoother, more mature R&B style through its somewhat overextended but ultimately pretty successful metaphor.
It's obvious that this album came from a personal place for Ciara as she fought to get back to LA Reid's tutelage and out of the shadow of LaFace and her two less than successful albums, with her last real breakthrough singles like 2009's "Love Sex Magic" with Justin Timberlake and 2006's "Promise" echoing Ciara's knack for coming up with solid R&B tracks, but not chart-rocking singles.
Ciara's self-titled record is good. Not excellent, but solid. It might not distinguish her from the Keri Hilsons, Fantasias, and Kelly Rowlands of the R&B girl world or rocket her to Rihanna or Beyonce status where even the simplest of tracks from the ladies get super glued to both listeners' brains and the Billboard charts for weeks and months at a time. Ciara does best when she fills the void that Janet Jackson's absence from the music scene has left: a smooth and sensual R&B voice that focuses on slow-burning sultry grown woman tracks with hip hop influences on her more danceable tracks that complement her own talents in this area. (Everyone noticed how Scream those scenes with Nicki in the "I'm Out" video felt, right?)
But in the waves of EDM offerings still dominating Billboard charts, something it seems like she tried to hit on with "Overdose" but doesn't nail on the head, and a string of big names dropping big CDs (Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Beyonce, Jay-Z ... etc., etc.) it might be hard for Ciara's fifth and self-titled album to break into the consciousness of what's dominating the charts.
But hey if Robin Thicke's decidedly R&B "Blurred Lines" and Justin Timberlake's entire album can do it, there's always hope for CiCi's jams to do it too.