A somewhat disappointing debut.
Sophie Bruce 2009-05-08
Some people wait a long time to get their name in lights. Keri Hilson's waited twelve years (literally: her signature's scrawled in neon on the cover of her debut solo album), but on In A Perfect World… this eternal hook girl struggles to fill the shoes of a solo songstress.
There's no denying Hilson has a great voice, but it lacks the feisty edge of Scherzinger, Blige or Knowles. And though the collaborator list reads like a Who's Who of R&B, (Timbaland, Kanye, Ne-Yo, Akon, Trina) it all feels a little bit repetitive.
Timbaland, also on Executive Producer duties, joins her on pan-pipe laden Return The Favor – which lacks the catchy hook of their previous collaborations. Both Scream and The Way I Are appear here as bonus tracks – but where is her finest collaborative hour… Nas' Hero? Inexplicably missing.
Kanye and Ne-Yo collaboration Knock You Down is the next single and the biggest potential hit. Slow Dance – co-written with Justin Timberlake - is laden with potential in its first Prince-channelling two minutes, but loses its way completely when it breaks down into beatboxing.
The bland feeling is all the more surprising given that Hilson co-wrote 12 of the 17 tracks. It's not like she doesn't have the magic formula – she wrote Gimme More for Britney, Wait A Minute for the Pussycat Dolls and has also penned hits for Ciara, Usher and Ludacris. Maybe by the time she came round to compiling her own stuff she'd run out of inspiration.
Other good points on the album are Make Love (one of the few she didn't help write) and How Does It Feel, an interesting upbeat take on If I Were A Boy, mixed by Nelly Furtado's other half. But Alienated is like a lacklustre Jai Ho! – and there's that repetitive vibe again.
''Why would you change me?'' she sings on the inevitable Akon collaboration Change Me. Well… because frankly, love, your current incarnation's a bit dull. If she continues in this groove, Keri Hilson is destined always to be the bridesmaid.