Coping with an all-too public breakup often yields raw, humanizing creative boosts for music stars -- Marvin Gaye's withering Here, My Dear is the classic -example. For R&B singer Ciara, whose sexy turn-up jams have always been more style than substance, splitting with her baby's father, rapper Future, last August seemed like a ripe opportunity to finally open the emotional blinds and let people in. And sure enough, "I Bet," the first single from her sixth album Jackie, seemed to do just that. "Is that your bitch over there, giving me the ugly stare?" she sings, presumably referring to the alleged infidelity that ended their relationship.
But that's one of the few seemingly genuine moments on Jackie, which, despite being named after her mother, feels oddly impersonal. Instead, the album is mostly a robotic retread of the party-scoring fare of prior releases, but without the memorable hooks and irresistibly kinetic production. Since debuting with 2004's Goodies, Ciara, 29, has made her career on self-empowering dance scorchers and seductress anthems, and on Jackie she once again hits the club, cozies up to new beaus and thumps her chest along the way.