Album review: Ciara 'Fantasy Ride'

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Ciara is now three albums deep into her career and has admit tingly gotten better with every album. From the ‘Crunk N&B’ Queen to the now dance-pop hit maker, she is out to prove that she belongs amongst the elite. With the R&B genre forever taking twist and turns, one artist much make sure they’re on top of their game, bring something new to the table and having small room for error with each time out.

Ciara’s ‘Fantasy Ride' has already been thrown through a loop, with numerous push backs and countless number of failed singles. However, with the second single “Love Sex Magic” it includes a collaboration with one of today’s biggest pop stars, Justin Timberlake. Produced by the Y’s, one of today’s up and coming duo production team, the collaboration and chemistry seems effortless, which is evident in the video as well. Originally a Justin Timberlake demo, the new polished version is a groovy, funk mid-tempo that’s sure to get the crowd moving. “Ciara to the Stage” the opening track shows Ciara breathlessly delivering her lyrics which she uses a connection of her introducing herself to her listeners while seducing her lover at the same time. She works with The-Dream on numerous occasions, including the stand out track “Like a Surgeon” a very Aaliyah inspired track, which Ciara holds her own. Ciara’s lyrics are clever and confident where she states “When it comes to love/I’m like a surgeon/I’m a true technician...My ears will be you stethascope”

Ciara also works with a handle full of established artist on the album as well. Including Ludacris on “High Price” where the vocal arrangements, very opera inspired is an attempt to try something new, but falls flat in the process. Also with Chris Brown on “Turntables” another production gem, produced by Danja and crew. ‘Turntables’ is defiantly one of the better songs on ‘Fantasy Ride’. However, the collaboration doesn’t quite flow well, making it sound like Chris Brown and Ciara were recording in separate rooms and not convinced about it at all. Several rappers also lay verses including Young Jeezy on “Never Ever” the uninspired clichéd first single, Missy Elliott on the sub-par syrupy party starter “Work” and singer The-Dream on the sleeper “Lover’s Thing”. With an assortment of dance records, Ciara also includes a variety of pop ballads. Her vocals fall flat on “Tell Me What You Name Is” which she sounds off beat at times and “Keep Dancin’” a very seductive futuristic sounding track, which isn’t half bad. “I Remember” a bad way to end the album has convincing lyrics, but Ciara’s doesn’t sound confident in her vocals, passing the song off as mediocre. “G is for Girl (A-Z)” is one of the albums’ finer moments and probably the most well rounded track on the album, also produced by the Y’s.

Verdict: Ciara’s third album of her career shows a minimal amount of lyrical inspiration, direction or consistency. However, there are a handful of standout tracks (mostly the uptempo songs) and a bad apple here and there (most of the ballads). Ciara shows more confidence and sex appeal than the first two albums and yes, it’s getting better with her vocals and attempts to try new things. Last, the first half of the album is how the second half should have been constructed. After the first five songs or so, the album becomes uninteresting.

Five songs to Download: Like a Surgeon, Turntables, Love Sex Magic, Ciara to the Stage, G is For Girl (A-Z)

Skip: Lover’s Thing, Work, Pucker Up

Rating: 3/5

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