After releasing her self-titled album a few years ago, Ciara’s life took a turn for the worse. Finding out the father of her new child was being unfaithful to her on top of the public cancellation of their engagement lead to the delay of her next planned album. It’s during this time that Ciara recorded her new album Jackie, whilst also juggling the monumental task of being a new mother.
From the moment the album starts, Ciara makes it clear that she’s in control of herself. Jackie (B.M.F.) starts the album on a high note, featuring a slick production that flows between three different sections as the song goes on, all full of attitude and Ciara’s assertion of her strength. Two tracks later, Lullaby brings out her sensual side, mixing the minimal and innuendo-laden verses with the bouncing chorus in a remarkably catchy way. This mood continues into Stuck On You, which features the catchiest melodies on the album and sticks in your head long after listening to it. The entire opening section of the album asserts her strength with success, right up until the seventh track.
I Bet brings the album to another level, showing the vulnerability and airing her insecurities after the end of her relationship. The song features lyrics that feel like Ciara is attempting to build herself up after the break-up, but by the end takes a twist that reveals an entirely different side: Right now it’s killing me / Cause now I have to find someone else / When all I wanted was you. It hits the themes of Ciara’s recent life perfectly, and feels substantial in both meaning and quality.
With the first seven songs revolving around different styles of R&B, the prospect of the rest of the album following the theme was somewhat off-putting. However, I Bet is promptly followed by the album’s first major surprise, Give Me Love. Instead of R&B, this marks the album’s turn into pop music, using a light upbeat electro-pop arrangement to contrast the previous song, and lift the mood of the album at the exact moment it needed it most.
All Good uses a pop arrangement that uses its extra use of guitars to lead into a guitar-fronted bridge, in what can easily be called Jackie’s most unique song. By the time the album ends on the moving ballad I Got You, written for her son, it’s covered a wide range of pop and R&B styles, without missing a step once. The theme of empowerment is dropped pretty quickly over the course of the album and transitions into more normal pop songs instead, but the only songs that don’t really match the quality of their peers are I Got You and Only One, which stand out as ballads against an otherwise upbeat album. The additional remixes of I Bet also feel unnecessary, though as bonus tracks they serve their purpose well enough. They just don’t fit very well in the context of the album.
This is definitely a triumph for Ciara. Its consistent quality and her top notch performance work together to make something that’s enjoyable from start to finish, and the album switches gear from R&B to pop at the perfect moment to keep it interesting and avoid wearing thin. Some real thought definitely went into Jackie, and it’s paid off in the long run.