Ciara Releases Strongest Album To Date With ‘Jackie’

When Ciara introduced the world to the beauty of body parties back in 2013, the return of the R&B/ occasional pop performer was evident. Everything at the start of that era was done so right from the playful yet sensual music video, to killing performances of the slow jam left to right. It was hard not to notice the growing confidence beaming out of the artist. Two years later Ciara has dealt with a public break up, had her first baby, while working on her sixth album and taking any opportunity possible to look gorgeous around the world through Instagram pictures.

My love for the southern princess began in the age of hiding goodies in cookie jars and one two stepping on the dance floor and it continues to grow with each album. Even though Ciara isn’t known for selling tons of albums, her artistry and stage presence continues to get better. I can’t help but admire an artist that can continue to improve and I’d make the bold statement to call Ciara my generation’s Janet Jackson.

The title of CiCi’s sixth album stemmed from being inspired by her mother, as a way to say thank you for making me the strong woman and mother I am and being an amazing person. That influence she found from Jackie can definitely be heard on this record. After creating her extremely solid (and sadly underrated) fifth self-titled album, I had doubts on if this album would be able to top what she done, especially since the announcement of her Jackie tour came before any word of an album release date or even a second single. I can confidently say after having two weeks with the album… Jackie is Ciara’s strongest work to date and fans of her previous work will not be disappointed with this body of work.

Jackie begins with grand production that wouldn’t sound out of place in a dazzling musical, as Ciara dreamily expresses what her mother means to her. After those kind words, Harmony Samuels drops the beat and switches to brash, gltichy pounding production as Ciara declares herself a B.M.F (also known as a Bad Mother Fucker). I wasn’t expecting hear such a vulgar sounding Ciara when I first listened to the track but I got into her BMF attitude as she continued to spit more heat on the record. “Jackie (B.M.F.)” changes production three times with the last time being very minimal to give Ci a canvas to talk her shit for the haters or anyone worried about her business, “Fuck a blog / I ain’t holding back, I’m going off.” (Thanks for the uh, kind warning Ciara).

An artist really needs confidence to attack a song like this without it coming off as cheesy and Ciara sounds as authentic as ever with this boss persona. “Jackie (B.M.F.)” runs on the long side at a little over five minutes but I guess she had too much to say for a short introduction to the Jackie era. After letting her fans and haters know she’s a bad motherfucker, Ciara is ready to make everyone dance with “That’s How I’m Feeling”.

Over a turnt Polow production, the mid-tempo number has some bite with a catchy chorus and features from Pitbull and Missy Elliott; two artists who are known to create a few (or dozen) big party records. I never thought I would want to hear a Pitbull/Ciara collaboration but he sounds good on the track as he does what he does best (Dale!). I never get tired of hearing Ciara work with Missy and “That’s How I’m Feeling” adds to the strong catalogue they have together. At first listen you would think that “THIF” would’ve been the first single because of how fitting it is to Ciara’s rhythmic pop style but I’m glad she didn’t go for the obvious and opted for something with a little more heart. The next track Lullaby instantly became my favorite song on Jackie at first listen and it still holds the top spot after countless spins of this album.

From the beat that was made to make you move, to Ciara riding the smooth production so well I can’t help but think of some of the songs that can be found on CiCi’s second album The Evolution. “Lullaby” is a perfect combination of CiCi’s R&B side with that infectious pop element that makes you want to hear the song on repeat. Dr Luke and Cirkut’s contribution is most likely the reason why “Lullaby” is such an ear worm and they also had a hand with four other records on the album including the equally addicting “Dance Like We’re Making Love”.

“DLWML” is like the after party to Ciara’s grown and sexy return to the charts “Body Party”. Everything is turned up a notch with a slow yet hard knocking beat as Ciara sounds like she’s in pure ecstasy as she repeatedly pleads her lover on the dancefloor to dance like they’re in the bedroom on the chorus (with a few drawn out “lo-o-o-o—ove’s” for added effect). The Georgia peach always creates amazing music videos that really sell the concept of her songs and I can’t wait to see what she conjures up with this one since it’s her second single. Oh does anyone else hear a M.J. influence on how Ciara sound’s on “DLWML” and “Stuck On You” or is it just me?

Speaking of “Stuck On You” the designer label mentioning banger is next and it sounds a little old school. If you take a glance at Ciara’s Instagram or know about some of her closet friends in the industry then you know that fashion plays a big role in her life. “Stuck On You” starts with Ciara listing some of the most influential names in fashion and naming all the places you could be on a flight to if you had the exclusive invitation to roll with a Georgia peach. The production on this one is top notch and I love the buildup and breakdown of the record towards the end.

“Fly” is the first emotional record on Jackie as Ciara let’s her former lover known that it’s okay for him to leave and find himself. If you don’t pay any attention to the lyrics, you might think you’re listening to a track that is destined to play in the clubs because of the beat definitely prevents the song from being too sappy. Ciara’s strongest vocals have a home on this album and this song especially shows the range Ciara has gained over the years. “Fly” was one of the first songs Ciara gave a fans preview to during an improtu Coachella performance with DJ R3hab and the excitement felt on that stage can still be felt on the song.

The emotions keep flowing with “I Bet”, the first single from Jackie and Ciara’s statement to the world on the end of her relationship with Future. I wrote about Ciara’s scathing break up record back when it came out and most of those thoughts still reign true as I listen to “I Bet” today. The only thing I would say different from that review is that “I Bet” was the perfect first single for this era. Not only did it give Ciara the opportunity to address what she’s been going through in the past year but it’s a really fucking good R&B song that could be played on different radio formats. The beginning and ending of Ciara and Future’s relationship really played out in the media and knowing so much about that history definitely adds to the effect of the song. You want Ciara to win whether that be on the charts or at love and “I Bet” was the perfect first single to bring that point across.

Ciara doesn’t tend stay to sad on this album as she gets back on the dancefloor for “Give Me Love”. Another song with a serious message and a dance beat prevents you for feeling sorry for CiCi. It sounds like she’s moved on and just wants to let the world know what she’s experienced in the last two years since her fifth album. “Give Me Love” is a solid song on the album. The production is on point, Ciara sounds amazing and there isn’t much else that needs to be said about the track.

“Kiss & Tell” is another track that reminds me of previous Ciara records and might be my second favorite track off of Jackie. I love the playful or flirty tone of the song and after first listen, you’re going to want to sing-a-long to that hook. The next track “All Good” is shockingly a feel good track that you can’t help but dance to it. I love the upbeat production and undertones of guitar to complete the sound. “All Good” feels like the type of track Janet Jackson would’ve made during her All For You era. Out of the four bonus tracks, “Only One” is definitely my favorite and I think it should’ve had a spot on the standard edition. Honestly I would’ve replaced it with “One Woman Army” because it’s the stronger track out of the two but Ciara is the general and she makes the commands. Her voice sounds beautiful as she effortlessly soars on the triumphant record.

Ciara introduces “One Woman Army” with an intro and I sadly like it better than the song. The more I hear “One Woman Army”, the more I can’t help but think about how dope it would’ve been if it was released when it was originally slated to come out in 2012. The production reminds me of Chris Brown’s “Turn Up The Music” and Ciara sounds great on the dance record but it feels dated. If Ciara decided to make visuals for this one, I’m sure it would be epic and may be able to change my mind but until then “One Woman Army” will be a song I only listen if I’m playing the album in full.

“I Got You” rounds out the deluxe edition of Jackie other than the “I Bet” remixes and CiCi saved the best for last. Dedicating a song to her son Future, “I Got You” is extremely touching and I couldn’t help smiling as baby Future laughs when Ciara talks to him. The track was penned by Diane Warren and it’s perfect. Artists creating songs for their newborns isn’t a new thing and they’re always touching but Ciara invokes so much emotion in this song. “I Got You” is the perfect way to wrap up the album.

Ciara stated in numerous interviews that Jackie is her best work to date and I have to agree. It seems like Ciara is at a point in her life where she knows what she wants to do with her music and she isn’t scared to back thread to previous efforts if she can improve on the sound or try something completely new and dominate it. Certain tracks like “Jackie (B.M.F.)”, “Dance Like We’re Making Love”, and “One Woman Army” only work with a confident artist and Ciara has definitely embraced her flaws and what she does that have led her to having a long career and I expect her to continue to craft solid music. As she stated in the intro, “I know you hate it when you see me smile / Get used to it / I’mma be here for a while.” I truly hope Ciara keeps going and her albums sales get a lot more love because she deserves to achieve that type of success when she’s releasing albums as solid as Ciara or Jackie.

What do you think of CiCi’s latest album Jackie? Let me know in the comments!

Buy Jackie on iTunes: HERE

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