When Ciara charged onto the charts with the one-two punch of "Goodies" and "1, 2 Step" in 2004, she seemed destined for R&B superstardom.
But after her follow-up "Ciara: The Evolution" cooled, Ciara sort of disappeared, eventually getting mired in public battles with her record label. All that seems silly after one listen to "Ciara" (Epic), which reunites her with L.A. Reid and a posse of talented songwriters and producers all working to put CiCi back on top. And they will succeed. "Ciara" is packed with the kind of sweet, sexy-but-not-raunchy R&B that always seems to work. It feels like the upbeat, poppy album fans have been wanting Janet Jackson to make for years.
Nicki Minaj should help Ciara land another combination of hits with their collaborations. The hard-hitting "I'm Out," where Nicki lets the insults fly and Ciara coos seductively about making this an anthem for women moving on after bad breakups, is already making an impact, while the uplifting "Livin' It Up" is destined to become a club anthem.
However, it may be the catchy "Body Party," which smartly recasts the Ghost Town DJs' classic "My Boo" as a sultry ballad, that will have the most staying power. Ciara reaches to the top of her register, breathily declaring, "Your body is my party."
As likable as all of "Ciara" is, she still takes some chances. On the smooth "Super Turnt Up," credited to Ciara "featuring Ciara," she does double duty as both the singer and the rapper, showing that her time out of the spotlight has been spent wisely.
BOTTOM LINE Ciara returns with more R&B "Goodies"