Ciara

Jackie

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Once the dust settled on her self-titled album, her first for the Epic label, Ciara quickly got to work on her sixth overall album. She also went through some extreme highs and lows: an engagement to and split from collaborator Future, as well as the birth of the couple's son. Named after her mother, Jackie understandably covers many emotions. They're often bundled in perplexing ways. The three-part title track begins with a theatrical tribute to her mother, then shifts abruptly into an alternately boastful and prickly club track -- a synthesis of down-low bass and bleeps and vintage jungle -- in which she declares "I'm a bad motherfucker" around two dozen times and proclaims "Fuck a blog" once. Again, this is a song named after her mother. On the calmer but just as complicated end, there's "I Bet," a post-breakup ballad that combines sorrow (I'm all cried out") and bitterness ("Is that your bitch over there?") with an expressive vocal that simultaneously sounds resigned and content. The album contains fewer highlights than any previous Ciara album, but "Kiss & Tell" is an undeniable gem, produced by Dr. Luke and Cirkut, that adds some much needed sweetness and smoothness to the mix. Other club tracks either reheat past hits or attempt to stay up to date, and the results are mixed. While Ciara's not among the first vocalists someone would consider ideal for a Diane Warren ballad, she puts a whole lot of feeling into "I Got You," a song that reflects her outlook as a new mother. It's another bright spot on a stilted album.

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