Ashanti's new album The Declaration dropped last Tuesday June 3 and the critic reviews have been nothing more than tough. While she is only projected to push in 80,000 units Brett Johnson with the Associated Press wrote up a not so positive review with his take on the album.
At first glance, Ashanti seems to have the ingredients to be a legitimate, top-tier R&B diva — the designer-clad look, a platinum-selling pedigree and a resonant, if not booming, voice.
But big-name soul sisters such as Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey or Beyonce Knowles need not look over their shoulders. Despite Ashanti's attributes, it's hard to identify what sets her apart.
Read the rest of the review after the jump.
On her fourth solo album, The Declaration, Ashanti operates without frequent collaborator Ja Rule or her former mentor/producer Irv Gotti. Instead, she attempts to assert her own identity. Yet the disc doesn't manage to break any new ground, with Ashanti singing mainly over unremarkable R&B tracks about her own good loving and cheating boyfriends.
The single, The Way That I Love You — and its revenge fantasy video — shows Ashanti's potential, with the track's tumbling piano notes and her belted vocals that exhibit believable anguish.
But the woman-scorned sentiment grows tiresome when revisited on the synth-pop of You're Gonna Miss and again on the anthemic high-pitched keys of the Rodney Jerkins-produced So Over You.
She ups her hot-girl quotient a notch, professing to be ''the bad girl that loves to get in trouble'' while Robin Thicke adds his breathy falsetto to the sultry Things You Make Me Do.
Her forays into sexy-soul territory (Good Good and Body On Me with Akon and Nelly) seem to undermine the good-girl balladry (Mother and Shine) tacked on near the end.
On the disc's intro she states, ''I'm declaring me.'' But next time out, she'll need to dig deeper to reveal more.