To say that Ciara has had a rocky time in the music industry since her 2004 debut album Goodies would be an understatement. After topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with her debut single, the title track from her debut album, the future looked bright for Ciara. She enjoyed success with subsequent singles from her debut and her second album Ciara: The Evolution. Expected to continue with huge success after the smash-hit Love Sex Magic featuring Justin Timberlake, her third album Fantasy Ride, released in 2009, under-performed commercially and rumblings of label disputes began to surface. 2010 album Basic Instinct fared worse with Ciara explaining to fans that her label weren’t supporting the record. Now she’s changed labels and has just released her new self-titled album Ciara.
Ciara, originally going to be called One Woman Army, is a confident urban/pop record that concentrates more on feeling good than it does on her recent label woes. The album’s lead single, the sensual Body Party, is a good indication of the direction Ciara is heading and it marries the sound that fans know her for with contemporary beats that fit nicely with the current chart landscape. Lyrically the song is suggestive with Ciara inviting a man to enjoy her body and is reminiscent of her hit Promise.
Fans of Ciara’s previous albums will know that she often sticks in the mid-tempo but Ciara sees the singer exploring a variety of sounds. Sophomore mixes chunky beats with swagger-filled lyrics, I’m Out featuring Nicki Minaj marries off-kilter beats with attitude-filled lyrics, and Super Turnt Up finds Ciara having a go at rapping herself. DUI is one of the album’s slower moments and has one of the best vocals on the record.
The album’s best moments come on the poppier moments such as the beat-heavy and catchy Read My Lips. On the track Ciara uses her sweeter vocal tone whilst still conveying plenty of attitude. Livin’ it Up (not to be confused with J.Lo’s recent single) features Nicki Minaj and has an 80s vibe that is ridiculously infectious. The standout track is closing number Overdose which mixes electro-pop with R&B. If this isn’t a single during this album campaign then it’s a serious missed opportunity. The track is so damn catchy and has hit written all over it.
Ciara is Ciara’s strongest album to date. Rather than serving up the usual overly-long R&B album that she has been guilty of in the past, Ciara delivers nothing but killer. Every track deserves its place on the record and there isn’t a dud on it. Sounding confident, sexy and full of attitude, Ciara has delivered her best album to date. If you’re looking for the sound of the summer then you’ve just found it with Ciara.