Back in 2004, when Ciara was trendy instead of trendsetting, it was difficult to decipher the artist behind the radio-ready wrapping. In 2006, she took a bit of a risk with "Promise," the slowed down lead single from her second album Evolution. Still, despite the album's title, Evolution offered very little progression from her debut. Three years later, Ciara finally delivers an album worthy of her potential.
At its best, Fantasy Ride sees Ciara seamlessly merging the hip-hop appeal that has kept her a club staple for years, with the R&B swagger that finally gives her crediability beyond the dancefloor. Songs like the Dream produced "Like a Surgeon" translate just as well from the club to the bedroom, all the while demonstrating that Ciara has perfected a sustainable brand of sexiness that eluded her earlier efforts. "Ciara to the Stage" serves as further testament to the singer's newfound sexual agency, while "Echo" picks up the pace without sacrificing the maturity. Still, Ciara is familiar with her audience, and album standout "G is For Girl" caters to the urban fanbase that made her a star.
However, the album isn't without its setbacks. While Ciara has made serious vocal strides since her debut, a number of Fantasy Ride's tracks still suffer from her occasionally strained vocals. In fact, songs like "High Price" and "Lover's Thing" only fail as a result of Ciara's delivery. "Lover's Thing" in particular would be a solid ballad if not for her near-embarrassing pitch. On the otherhand, "I Don't Remember" suffers not because of Ciara, but due to Ne-Yo's uninspired production. The song hardly fits the rest of the album's pacing, and thankfully serves as the last track - that way you can stop at the infinitely more satisfying "Tell Me What Your Name Is," and pretend that "I Don't Remember" never happened.
With Fantasy Ride Ciara demonstrates that her five-year career is a work of progression instead of predictability, and that should be enough to keep listeners interested for at least five more.
Check out "Like a Surgeon" and "G is For Girl"...on another blog, cause I'm tired of having my posts taken down.