Fantasy Ride (LaFace/Zomba)
Since mid-2008, the journey of Ciara’s Fantasy Ride, has been a rocky one. First, her ambitious three-disc concept was nipped. Then the T-Pain–assisted first single, “Go Girl”—now just a UK and Japan bonus track—proved too slippery for popular grasp. And finally a rather prolific series of leaks spilled onto the Web causing a series of push-backs for her third album. Needless to say, Ms. Harris has felt the cuts and scrapes of a strenuous trek. Now, at long last, the Fantasy Ride has begun and the former “Princess of Crunk&B,” who cemented her commercial might in 2004 with the double-platinum Goodies (LaFace/Zomba) and again in 2006 with The Evolution (LaFace), knows just what to do to heal a blow: dance it off.
Ciara is most comfortable in the nook of choreography-driven tracks. From the snappy electro-pop acrobatics of “Work,” to the hyper-operatic harmonies of “High Price,” Cici has the dance floor aglow—this is the type of show we’ve come to expect from the slinky 23-year-old. And though the fun and games are entertaining, lines like, “I should be an Iraq shawty, cause I am the bomb,” are over-heated and trite. What Fantasy Ride lacks are the career-defining highs of songs like “Promise” and “Like a Boy,” songs that were romantic and indelible and altogether original. Second single “Love Sex Magic”—originally leaked as a Ciara-free track scrapped from a forthcoming Justin Timberlake album—is soaked in a familiar funk. “Ciara to the Stage” comes closest to the ardent yearning of “Promise”—she even hollers that song’s title to jog your memory—but ultimately it doesn’t measure up.
And for a woman who has been accused of Beyoncé forgery, Ciara might’ve benefited from a bit of emulation. Super C, who Ciara calls her “inner strength and more aggressive persona," dominates here with an androgyny so intense it could make the average male R&B vocalist sound like a sissy. Though Bey’s Sasha Fierce shined with moxie and conceit, she knew when to take a seat and usher in her vulnerable half. Super C opts for the blunt and swingy Polow Da Don-produced “Never Ever,” a wafting duet with The-Dream called “Lover’s Thing,” and the spacey Ne-Yo–penned ballad “I Don’t Remember.” But they’re just a peephole into a Ciara the public has yet to hear more from: the real woman.
Fantasy Ride's Track Listing
1. “Ciara to the Stage”
2. “Love Sex Magic” feat. Justin Timberlake
3. “High Price” feat. Ludacris
4. “Turntables” feat. Chris Brown
5. “Like a Surgeon”
6. “Never Ever” feat. Young Jeezy
7. “Lover’s Thing” feat. The-Dream
8. “Work” feat. Missy Elliott
9. “Pucker Up”
10. “G is for Girl (A-Z)”
11. “Keep Dancin’ on Me”
12. “Tell Me What Your Name Is”
13. “I Don’t Remember”