The Declaration

Sleek but insubstantial fourth outing from R&B songstress

Like the exterior of a Formula 1 car, the fourth album from Ashanti, The Declaration, might seem sleek and dazzling but, ultimately, it’s going precisely nowhere. Having dispensed with the services of long time musical associate Ja Rule and former producer Irv Gotti, you get the impression that Ashanti has made the conscious decision that she’ll here try and conjure something different. However, instead of producing magic, she’s only gone and pulled a turkey out of her gold-sequinned sleeve.

Top-end producers Jermaine Dupri, Babyface and Rodney Jerkins ensure that The Declaration has plenty of rouge on its cheeks, but you’re left with the inescapable impression that this is no natural R&B beauty. If anything, the production gloss only serves to accentuate the glaring lack of substance of this faux diva offering. Yes, contemporary pop is built on clichés but the woman-scorned shtick of songs like ‘You’re Gonna Miss’ and ‘So Over You’ quickly becomes tiresome. This lady doth protest far too much.

However, if you’re prepared to panhandle through the dross, there is the occasional glistening melodic nugget to be found. ‘The Way That I Love You’, with its tumbling piano motif, is suitably impassioned and ‘Things You Make Me Do’ – adorned with Robin Thicke falsetto – really does hit the high notes. Overall, though, it seems that Ashanti has nothing to declare but her mediocrity.

Key Track: ‘The Way That I Love You’

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