Standing firm in a comfort zone that plays it safe, Ashanti returns from a four year absence with a repetitious studio installment.

Standing firm in a comfort zone that plays it safe, Ashanti returns from a four year absence with a repetitious studio installment. Chart-topping single “The Way That I Love You” features a strong bassline and a unique tumbling piano that smoothly drives the catchy hook, but the all-too-familiar subject matter only shows how little Ashanti has changed since her last disc. Originality is in short supply here.

Enlisting the help of hit producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds on “Mother,” Ashanti opens up about her relationship with her “Momager,” dedicating a heart-felt ballad that should garner heavy rotation on Mother’s Days down the road. “Good Good,” produced by Jermaine Dupri, a declaration of having the type of love that makes a man come home each night, and “So Over You,” produced by Rodney Jerkins, keep the momentum flowing and have promise for club spins. Flawless production on “Body on Me” featuring Nelly and Akon definitely works; “Things You Make Me Do,” with Robin Thicke, delivers a smooth, sexy duet filled with mature romantic anecdotes.

Ashanti - 'The Declaration'

Universal/Motown
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