ciara.jpgThe lead single from Ciara’s self-titled fifth album, Body Party, is an oozing, seductive R&B track that deserves rousing applause — especially when the 27-year-old matches the song with daring and sensual dance moves that scream Janet Jackson, Aaliyah and others who have come before her, as she did at the recent BET Awards.

The bedroom groove is easily the best of the 11 tracks that make up Ciara. There are others that shine, too: The bouncy Livin’ It Up, one of two songs to feature Nicki Minaj, has an empowering feel; the mid-tempo Read My Lips is appealing and Ciara’s sweet tone rides nicely over the semi-electronic beat of Overdose.

Still, the album doesn’t feel special. While it’s much better than her last two releases —the weak Fantasy Ride and subpar Basic Instinct — the album is made up of fillers that have you still wondering what kind of singer Ciara is.

Like her past records, Ciara isn’t cohesive, and instead, is sporadic — some hits here, satisfactory work there, but overall, mediocrity reigns. The album, out on Epic Records, is her first album since leaving LaFace Records, her home since she released her multi-platinum 2004 debut, the explosive Goodies.

She had hits from that album and its follow-up, Ciara The Evolution, but she hasn’t established her own style or sound in the near-decade she’s been on the scene.

Ciara, the person, is still searching for Ciara, the singer.

Ciara kicked-off her new album with three different singles — Sweat, Sorry and Got Me Good — that now don’t appear on Ciara, a sign of her creative struggles. The album features producers and songwriters such as Rodney Jerkins, Mike WiLL Made-It, Livvi Franc and Future, her rapper-boyfriend who co-wrote and co-produced Body Party.

Hopefully, he can be the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to her Janet — or she can find someone else to fill that slot.