Ciara's 'Ciara': What the Critics Are Saying

The R&B star's fifth studio album arrives Tuesday, July 9 and features guest appearances by Future, Nicki Minaj and B.o.B.

Ciara is no stranger to the R&B scene thanks to her 2004 debut which launched the hits “Goodies” and “1, 2 Step” -- and catapulted the Atlanta beauty to stardom.

Since then, Ciara's career has seen its highs and lows -- namely, the not-so-well-received albums Fantasy Ride (2009) and 2010's Basic Instinct. Still, Ciara has sold over seven million albums worldwide.

The artist's fifth studio album, the self-titled Ciara, was released on Tuesday, July 9, and so far is receiving mostly positive reviews from critics. With catchy singles “I’m Out” and “Body Party,” the album finds Ciara diving deeper into other mediums, including rap.

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Billboard’s Erika Ramirez notes that with each album, “Ciara has gotten closer to becoming her true self. ... Ultimately strengthening her talents, Ciara's self-titled fifth studio album finds the singer at her best: when she's at her most confident.”

Billboard calls the album “her strongest and most concise since her debut,” mentioning the artist’s exploration of new territory in dance with “Overdose” and rapping in “Super Turnt Up.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Mikael Wood agrees, noting Ciara’s more relaxed approach “may also be a reaction to the poor performance of her previous disc, 2010’s Basic Instinct.”

Wood says besides the fast-paced “Keep on Lookin’” and “I’m Out,” “Ciara mellows her approach here, the result of perhaps of her reportedly happy relationship with singer-rapper Future, who joins Ciara for a pair of beautifully spaced-out slow jams: the acoustic-guitar-laced 'Where You Go' and 'Body Party,' in which she gently issues instructions -- 'Touch me right there / Rock my body' -- over a plush soul groove.”

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The Associated PressMesfin Fekadu says he believes the lead single “Body Party” reflects Ciara’s best side in R&B. While other critics lauded Ciara for testing the waters with more mellow songs and rapping, Fekadu said “the album doesn’t feel special.” He adds, “the album is made up of fillers that have you still wondering what kind of singer Ciara is.”

While Ciara has said her biggest influences are singer siblings Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson, Newsday’s Glenn Gamboa says the album fills a niche Janet’s fans have been waiting for.

Ciara is packed with the kind of sweet, sexy-but-not-raunchy R&B that always seems to work,” Gamboa writes. “It feels like the upbeat, poppy album fans have been wanting Janet Jackson to make for years.”

Twitter: @THRMusic