Ciara may have said that she wants to shed the 'crunk princess' title that she's been saddled with since her 2004 debut album Goodies, but she doesn't do a very good job of remaking her image on her second album. The Evolution is Destiny's Child-inspired, crunk-lite that definitively demonstrates that Ci-Ci needs good producers a lot more than they need her. On every song here, the vocals lack something: on "That's Right," featuring Lil Jon, they lack power; on the otherwise fine "Promise," they lack emotion; on the decent "Like a Boy," they lack finesse. And it's these types of flaws that doom the album.
Decent Production, Weak Vocals
Without rappers, hot producers and gimmicks to help her out, Ciara's singing career would be over
. On her last album, she was an 18-year-old singer-dancer still trying to find her way in the music business. Now she's 21 and trying to forge a slightly more sophisticated image for herself. But just like another ingenue, Cassie, she's got the looks, but not the vocal ability to match. There are multiple songs on the album that are just flat-out bad, ruined by her flat, personality-deficient vocals, most notably the Neptunes-produced "I Proceed." And not even rap superstar 50 Cent can rescue the tinny-sounding throwaway track "Can't Leave 'Em Alone."
If you want an example of why R&B is in such a creative slump these days, albums like The Evolution are it. Nearly all the songs are vapid, shallow dance tracks trying to pass themselves off as meaningful expression. The album's not all bad, though: the mid-tempo seduction song "Promise" is among the better tracks, as is "My Love," a song that many may interpret as being directed at Ciara's former boyfriend, the rapper Bow Wow.
But overall, if you're looking for meaningful, insightful lyrics, looks elsewhere. On the other hand, if you don't care about all that and just want some fresh music to play at a party or to listen to while doing chores or while practicing dance moves, The Evolution may be right up your alley. But keep in mind that just like bubblegum, the album may appear full of flavor at first, but after a relatively short period of time, that flavor and freshness will be gone, never to return.