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Ciara - The Evolution

Ciara, Evolution

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

FOR an album called The Evolution, Ciara’s sophomore album doesn’t really show much sign of progression.

It’s rooted in the same crunk style she helped to create, features the usual smattering of high-profile collaborations (with the likes of 50 Cent, Chamillionaire amd R Kelly), and even revisits Goodies territory on a couple of occasions.

But that’s not to say it’s a bad record. Rather a guilty pleasure prone to some awful decision making.

The latter part of this 20-track monster is a little too ballad-based and boring. But when Ciara mixes her smooth flowing vocal style with some sharp, snappy beats and well-realised old-skool samples, The Evolution certainly gets that booty shaking.

Opening track That’s Right is a cracking start featuring the grime-laden vocals of Lil Jon and a real knee-trembler of a beat. It’s urgent, in yer face and guaranteed to get the sweat glands working overtime once you get down with its grooves.

Lead single Like A Boy follows to lend the album a welcome sense of familiarity with its strings and sassy attitude. In fact, you could even mistake it for the next offering from Beyonce.

Promise is a better example of one of the album’s ballads – Ciara coming over all tender and letting her words unfold against some pretty sultry beats. But too much of this sort of thing gets a little boring and really doesn’t showcase Ciara at her best.

Her collaboration with 50 Cent Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone is also disappointing and perhaps a little too rooted in that rapper’s comfort zone – emerging as bland and generic.

Listeners are better off sticking with the party pleasers, such as Make It Last Forever, a sample laden old-skool homage that drops a tantalising sample of Hear The Drummer Get Wicked.

Or Bang It Up, with its deliberate sense of foreboding. Or Get Up, another smart little performer that makes good use of Chamillionaire. It combines the crunk and sass of Goodies with the urban attitude and quick talking of Missy Elliott – it’s beats every bit as grinding.

Bonus tracks Addicted and a remix of Promise, featuring R Kelly, get things back on track after the ballads So Hard, I’m Just Me and I Found Myself during which, curiously, Ciara sounds more like a Janet Jackson wannabe than herself.

Evolution won’t shake up the music industry like Ciara’s debut did but it’s an album of some fine moments that proves she’s still got what it takes to be at the leading edge of her particular sub-genre. Just stick with the more upbeat stuff!

Download picks: That’s Right, Get Up, Make It Last Forever, Promise remix, Addicted, Like A Boy