By Mikael Wood
8:43 PM EDT, July 8, 2013
"What I got, baby, you can't have," Ciara taunts a would-be suitor in a track from her fifth studio album, and that's denial-as-usual for the appealingly aloof R&B singer who zoomed to stardom with the 2004 hit "Goodies."
Yet beyond "Keep on Lookin'" and the swaggering "I'm Out" with Nicki Minaj, Ciara mellows her approach here, the result perhaps of her reportedly happy relationship with the singer-rapper Future, who joins Ciara for a pair of beautifully spaced-out slow jams: the acoustic-guitar-laced "Where You Go" and "Body Party," in which she gently issues instructions — "Touch me right there / Rock my body" — over a plush soul groove.
The shift on "Ciara" may also be a reaction to the poor performance of her previous disc, 2010's "Basic Instinct." But Ciara, long one of R&B's most adventurous beat-seekers, isn't suddenly playing it safe. In "DUI" she asks a lover to "put them handcuffs on me," while "Super Turnt Up" includes a rap verse by the singer herself. Content? Sure. Complacent? Not yet.
Albums are rated on a scale of four stars (excellent), three stars (good), two stars (fair) and one star (poor).
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