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Keri Hilson - In A Perfect World

Keri Hilson, In A Perfect World

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

KERI Hilson has taken a while to emerge as a major R’n‘B force in her own right, having built a reputation for herself based on the vocals she’s contributed to two of the biggest hits of the noughties.

Those two hits were Timbaland’s The Way I Are and Scream, and she’s also penned hits for Britney Spears (Gimme More) and Pussycat Dolls (Wait A Minute).

Little wonder, then, that debut LP features many of her past collaborators and is a monster creation in every sense.

Comprised of 17 tracks, including The Way I Are and Scream, it’s a mostly impressive opening salvo from an artist who looks set to break big in a very huge way as 2009 progresses.

The production values certainly owe plenty to the no-nonsense urgency of a Timbaland production, while the guest spots read like a typical who’s who of every major artist. Lil Wayne, Akon, Keyshia Cole, Timbaland, Kanye West and Ne-Yo all appear at various points.

And there are plenty of future singles in waiting to pick out from the mix.

True, a lot of the songs sound like they’re tailor-made to grace the soundtrack of movies such as Fast & Furious, such is their pumped up nature, but there’s a very definite sex appeal surrounding Hilson’s style that places her at the better end of the R’n‘B scene.

The intro is typically sassy, and flirts with a full-on back-beat, before Lil Wayne combines vocals with Hilson on the moody Turnin’ Me On – a track to get the temperatures rising. Hilson is unfussy, sassy and takes no prisoners vocally. She’s flirtatious, but dangerously so.

Set Your Money Up and the Timbaland featuring Return The Favor maintain the tempo and sound tailor-made for radio friendliness – the latter, in particular, combining Hilson’s provocative style with a slightly more poppy vibe.

As you’d expect, Knock You Down is as big a track as you’d anticipate given that it features the combined talents of Hilson, West and Ne-Yo – but, in keeping with Kanye’s less rapped newer material, it maintains a pop focus. The beats are a little generic, but this one ticks all the right boxes for a collaboration of its type. Hell, Hilson even dares to sound a little more vulnerable than usual.

Ironically, though, it’s during the slower numbers that the album feels weaker. Tracks like Slow Dance and Make Love lack the urgency or infectious nature of Hilson at her edgy best, while the ballad Tell Him The Truth is a real misfire, emerging as a misguided attempt to embrace the spirit of Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey.

Fortunately, they’re kept to a minimum and tracks like the hands-in-the-air anthem How Does It Feel (complete with Rocky Balboa-style trumpet fanfare), and the breezy, mid-tempo Where Did He Go maintain the quality.

The final three bonus tracks, meanwhile, bring the album to a close with a feeling of exhilarating familiarity and underline the point that you’ve known [and possibly admired] Hilson for some time without necessarily realising it.

Well, now you have plenty to celebrate. Generic it may be, but Hilson has a definite sense of style that’s impossible not to like.

Download picks: Turnin’ Me On, Return The Favor, Knock You Down, How Does It Feel, Change Me, Where Did He Go, The Way I Are, Scream

Track listing:

  1. Intro
  2. Turnin’ Me On feat Lil Wayne
  3. Set Your Money Up feat Keyisha Cole and Trina
  4. Return The Favor feat Timbaland
  5. Knock You Down feat Kanye West and Ne-Yo
  6. Slow Dance
  7. Make Love
  8. Intuition
  9. How Does It Feel
  10. Alienated
  11. Tell Him The Truth
  12. Change Me feat Akon
  13. Energy
  14. Where Did He Go
  15. The Way I Are feat Keri Wilson
  16. Scream – Timbaland feat Keri Wilson and Nicole Scherzinger
  17. Hurts Me