Originally published on So So Gay on 8 May 2015.
After 2013’s self-titled album, her first release since signing to Epic, Ciara follows it with her sixth studio album, Jackie – named after her mother. Having given birth to her first child, and splitting from her fiance amid infidelity rumours on his part, a lot has happened to CiCi in the period between these albums. The crackling slow jam ‘I Bet’ allegedly addresses the latter events, and is a strong ticket to the Jackie show.
The album opens on a bit of a misstep with ‘Jackie (B.M.F.)’, which has the slightly laughable (and unnecessary) posturing of Ciara insisting she’s a ‘bad motherfucker’. It’s followed by the JLo-reject and pretty generic ‘That’s How I’m Feelin’ (it features Pitbull, natch), but the album quickly picks up with third track ‘Lullaby’ and generally goes from strength to strength.
Promotional/second single ‘Dance Like We’re Making Love’ is the first stand-out moment, being an ambient slice of sensual R&B, and builds on the work laid out by ‘I Bet. A clutch of catchy, upbeat numbers follow (‘Stuck On You’, ‘Fly’, ‘Give Me Love’), but the album’s pinnacle comes with the shimmering 80s flavoured jam that is ‘Kiss & Tell’, which will hopefully get the honour of being the album’s third single. Next is ‘All Good’, which is full of irresistible summer vibes and a strong single contender, but it’s the air-grabbing power ballad ‘Only One’ that closes the standard edition of Jackie on a high.
The original name for the Ciara album, ‘One Woman Army’ is an enjoyable uptempo stomper that ushers in the deluxe edition tracks. Taking a leaf out of Mariah’s (among others) book, Ciara drafts in her offspring for bonus adorability points on the pretty ballad ‘I Got You’, while a Jonas brother (Joe) appears on a duet-rehash of ‘I Bet’, before an Ibiza-ready remix of (again) ‘I Bet’ brings the extended package to a strong, shape-throwing conclusion.
She may be better known for her uptempo numbers, but where Ciara really shines on Jackie are it’s arguably more low-key moments. Perhaps not quite as good as Ciara – which shamefully left off ‘Sorry’ and ‘Got Me Good’, even from the deluxe edition – Jackie is still a strong addition to the young singer’s discography, as she continues to prove to be one of contemporary R&B’s leading lights.
Standout Tracks: ‘Dance Like We’re Making Love’ / ‘I Bet’ / ‘Kiss & Tell’ / ‘Only One’