Firstly, we regret to inform you that Ciara‘s new album is not named after the seminal Radio Jackie of southern England (it’s actually after her Ma, inspired by Ciara’s own motherhood). Secondly, we’re going to say what everyone’s thinking: when it comes to R&B, Ciara’s a bit overrated. Well she’s perfectly perfunctory, but she slots into neither the Ashanti level of pop-naff nor the pure hot-trot fire of Tinashe.
As usual, Jackie falls somewhere in between and leaves Ciara still struggling for a stronger foothold in the genre. Annoyingly, it’s more because her production lets her down. That’s How I’m Feelin’ is a pretty solid chart attack, let down by a beat plagued by familiarity (almost a slowed-down version of her own Got Me Good), not to mention a Pitbull. On a song that also has Missy Elliott. The term “smh” feels more than appropriate here.
But when it all clicks, she’s positively tantalising. Dance Like We’re Making Love is quite possibly one of the best R&B tracks this year is likely to see (cheers Dr Luke), as Ciara turns it on for a slow-grind slow-jam. Meanwhile, the title track takes the “bad motherfucker” phrase and turns it into three different mini songs, ricocheting from strings to a snare-trap beat and including the admittedly brilliant line “I just delivered a nine-pound, ten-ounce baby… I’m a bad motherfucker”. Sure, she’s essentially trying to channel Beyonce, but who cares – gear change, beat change, and we’re told “fuck a blog”. Well, quite. (We do so regularly on all sorts of levels.)
If Ciara loaded Jackie with tracks like these, it’d be a great deal less disappointing. As it is, we have to wade through dull trinity of Stuck on You, Fly, and I Bet before getting to something decent like Kiss & Tell or Give Me Love (another Dr Luke production – sense the pattern, petal).
Moreover, if we’re to judge Ciara’s motherhood on an album supposedly inspired by it, it seems she just has additional licence to spout the usual R&B faux-ferocity (one schmaltzy Diane Warren ballad aside, very originally named I Got You) than use the personal change to say something new and enlightening. A shame, really – as far as Jackies go, this could have been Kennedy but ends up closer to Stallone.
Jackie by Ciara can be ordered here.