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Ciara: Fantasy Ride

Ciara’s brand of seductive R&B is so highly developed that the formula of silky synths, midtempo beats and breathy vocals can be applied to practically anything and still sound hot.

All that makes “Fantasy Ride” (LaFace) a pretty smooth one, especially with superstar collaborators, including Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliott, Ludacris and The-Dream, helping her out. “Love Sex Magic” is the sweetest confection Timberlake has been a part of in years, while it still draws some fierce vocals out of Ciara. The pretty “Never Ever,” which is built around the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ classic “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” finds a perfect foil in Young Jeezy, who roughs things up with his rhymes.

Even when Ciara is copping some of the grooves of her contemporaries – like the Beyonce-influenced “G Is for Girl,” the Pussycat Dolls-y “High Price” and the Britney Spears-ish “Pucker Up” – she still manages to make it work. And maybe all that success leads to a little bit of overconfidence in the formula – thinking it can save such half-baked ideas as “Ciara to the Stage,” with its lists and a chorus of simply repeating the title, and the tortured metaphor of “Like a Surgeon,” which is not a Weird Al Yankovic remake.

While Ciara doesn’t really cover any new ground on “Fantasy Ride,” the ground she’s been mining for three

albums is still so fertile that she doesn’t really have to. At this point, the hits seem to just grow themselves.

- Glenn Gamboa
Newsday

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