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Fantasy Ride (LaFace/Sony)
On Fantasy Ride, Ciara trades in young girl flirtatiousness for the sexual confidence of a woman who knows what she wants. Riding the groove she found early in her career, she weaves through tipsy booty-call jams, Baltimore-clubesque dance numbers and straight-up rap beats.
This formulaic approach isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does feel like familiar territory at times, particularly on High Price, a Ludacris collaboration reminiscent of Oh. Conversely, Ciara and Missy Elliott’s trademark chemistry on kick-drum-heavy Work is the album’s strongest track. And while Ciara lacks the vocal range of the late Aaliyah – a comparison she can’t seem to shake – her vocal steadiness helps centre the album.
The pros outweigh the cons on Fantasy Ride, but the overall experience might fall a little short for seasoned fans.
Top track: Work