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Ciara: ‘Jackie’ Album Review!

You can’t keep a fierce woman down.

Until 2013, being a Ciara fan had almost become something of a labor of love considering all the complications that surrounded the release of her self-titled fifth studio album, Ciara. The situation was looking rather scary for the R&B-pop princess, until the 11-track set finally saw the light of day (on July 5) and it turned out to be an album packed with some of her hottest tracks to date. From “Body Party” to “I’m Out” with Nicki Minaj to “Livin’ It Up” and “Overdose,” Ciara saw CiCi honing in on what she does best. Which is really a little bit of everything.

Pre-order Ciara’s sixth studio album Jackie (out May 4th) on iTunes now!

On Jackie, her sixth studio album named after her mother and first since giving birth to her child Future Zahir Wilburn, CiCi picks up where Ciara left off and dives deeper into her winning, a-little-bit-of-everything formula.

“Imma bad mothafucker,” Ciara repeatedly declares on opening number “Jackie (B.M.F.),” the most in-your-face offering on the album. “If you been through what I been through man you be poppin’ this shit too,” she spits over a hard-hitting, twerk-happy beat. The song serves as a great intro to the record; she lets you know from the very beginning that she is not playing around. It’s straight up insane.

Then comes “That’s How I’m Feelin” featuring longtime collaborator Missy Elliott and Pitbull. The Ester Dean and Polow da Don-crafted track is a fun, bouncy R&B-pop jam driven by her classic crunk ‘n’ b beat and a fresh, pulsating trap throb. It’s classic CiCi taken up just a notch.

She continues to feel herself on “Lullaby,” a breezy bop that sounds like the sped up older sister to “Your Body” with its banging beat, breathy coos and seductive come-ons. Longtime fans should love this one – it’s signature CiCi perfected. The sensual vibes only continue to get stronger on “Dance Like We’re Makin’ Love,” her Dr.Luke-produced late-night banger and a major highlight of the album. “It’s really late / You’re getting close and the lights are off / You’re body is in-sync to the beat of my heart / and I can feel your nature rising while I unwind on you,” she smoothly coos over a tripping drum beat. “Let’s dance like we’re makin’ love-lo-lo-lo-lo-love!” The chorus is a real fucking moment – The perfect pick for single number two, which has been officially confirmed.

Meanwhile, the disco-funk of “Stuck On You” is one of Jackie‘s more playful productions bursting with retro flourishes and a smooth underline that drifts along like a classic Micheal Jackson record or her very own Justin Timberlake-assisted “Love Sex Magic.” “Cause I wanna get stuck on you tonight / I wanna get stuck on you tonight / Tell me can I get stuck on you tonight / Cause I’m gonna get stuck on you tonight.”

It isn’t until we arrive at “Fly” that the album begins to take a personal turn. “You should fly / For the first time in a long time / Just fly / Let you go, let you go,” CiCi belts over the upbeat Polow Da Don production. The song is essentially is a post-breakup anthem and a self-empowerment anthem all at once. The perfect segue into lead single “I Bet,” which has proven to be one of Ciara‘s strongest R&B cuts since “Promise.”

R&B CiCi is short-lived as we move into “Give Me Love,” the album’s dance-pop masterpiece that plays out like a glorious throwback to the House sirens and R&B divas of the ’90’s. “Give me love or nothing at all, give me love or nothing at all,” she declares across the infectious chorus, packed with shimmering synths and big, buoyant beats. It’s a pop radio smash in waiting – I LIVE!!!

Then there’s “Kiss & Tell,” which is easily my favorite and arguably the brightest moment Jackie has to offer. The track is a smooth, euphoric ’80’s-flavored number that gives off a sweet nostalgic summer vibe from start to finish. “Yeah I know I shouldn’t kiss and tell / About the way you do my body babe / But I just gotta tell somebody / How you do it, do it, to me / About the way you work my body / The way you work it, work it, for me,” Ciara softly sings across smooth, gentle electronic pulsations. If Jessie Ware had an upbeat, stronger pop sensibility, this is what it would sound like. Pure bliss.

Once we reach “All Good,” the realization is made that Jackie is very much a pop-driven record. “All Good” is another fresh anthem that shimmers with a summery vibe embracing the folky-guitar strums that have become very popular as of late without ever coming off as unoriginal. Not the strongest of the bunch, but a solid pop bop nonetheless.

CiCi then supplies us with “Only One” towards the end of the album. A full-bodied, super grown mid-tempo power ballad of mega-proportions. “Cause I’m not gonna be your one and only / Just when I’m the only one around / You’re one and only / Just when I’m the only one around,” she sings on the soaring chorus. She’s really wailing on this one – it’s so massive and so glorious.

Last is the Diane Warren-written “I Got You,” a gorgeous guitar-and-string-driven ballad dedicated to her baby boy.

Ultimately, what I took away from Jackie is that Ciara seems to have a better idea of who she is as an artist more so now than ever; she seems to be in a really great place. The album is fun, cohesive, consistent, and includes a bunch of potential hits. Fans can be reassured that their CiCi remains, as ever, determined to succeed.


Pre-order Ciara’s sixth studio album Jackie (out May 4th) on iTunes now!

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  • Shone

    Great review! I’m even more stoked for this release. I absolutely love her. So far the promo has been better on this project, but she needs talk-show exposure to push it over the top. Please tell me performances have been lined up on Fallon, Ellen, etc.!

  • GSF

    I didn’t want to read the review until after listening for myself & damn; she wasn’t lying when she said this was her best record yet. Her self-titled last record might boast more big radio smashes, and her previous records had some gems sprinkled throughout but this is by far her most solid record played from start to finish.

    Now I’m actually wondering about the single choices…I Bet & Dance LWML are my least two favorite tracks & the most forgettable of the bunch. I guess Dance is radio friendly genericana, but hopefully CiCi’s team makes sure this record becomes the hit it deserves to be. In related news, allegedly CiCi’s mentor Janet Jack may be coming back within the next few months & I’m trying to stay calm but lightweight freaking out.

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