Ciara – “Ciara”

Photo Credit: the Huffington Post

Grade: B-

Key Tracks: “I’m Out,” “Super Turnt Up”

You have to admire Ciara’s perseverance. Lead-off single “Body Party” is her first song to make a dent in the Billboard chart since roughly 2010, usually the kiss of death for solo R&B / rap artists. Her last few albums have not been successes either critically or commercially, even if they were not exactly failures in both categories, either. I don’t want to bring up her critical and commercial struggles, because every review of “Ciara” begins with that fact. But it is an important lead-in to this album. The album is simply titled “Ciara.” Bands and artists that choose to self-title a non-debut are often making a statement, that the album encapsulates all of the artists’ progress until now. Some work, (“Fleetwood Mac,” “Social Distortion”) while some are misguided declarations into new territories (“Metallica,” “blink-182”). “Ciara” is the former. It is a completely safe and standard album, but one where Ciara can put her foot down and announce that, despite a consistently slipping presence, she is still here, and will not let past failures stop her.

That being said, it is a very safe album. Opener “I’m Out” is a very dance-friendly track, constrained to medium-volume beats and even features an only-slightly-uncensored guest spot from the often pervasive Nicki Minaj. The album continues down this path: basic R&B songs, basic club tunes, basic songwriting. “Body Party” is the only song that really features Ciara’s strong voice, the album’s biggest downfall. Also, it’s relatively quiet demeanor shows up too early on the album, as the third track, and it is a little off-setting against the early club songs that are still winding up the album.

“Ciara” is not a long album, only ten tracks ranging mostly between three and four minutes. This is probably good, because of how underhand the album feels. If it were to go on much longer, it would feel too tepid instead of feeling like a collection of what she has done so far. It is not great, and commercially and critically might go down as another hit-and-miss effort. It’s mixing of different ideas does seem to have a purpose, however, one that might not go noticed to the listeners but one that does tie up her career to this point. It is a basic work, one that is enjoyable and almost immediately forgettable. Depth-less and easy, without overstaying it’s welcome.

Also, side note: I’m always down for a song called “Super Turnt Up”

-By Andrew McNally

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