Picks and Pans Review: Ashanti

updated 06/16/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/16/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Declaration |

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"I've experienced life, I've experienced death/I've felt pain I never felt before," says Ashanti, summing up the four years since her last studio album in the intro to The Declaration. Then she proceeds to give us a clue about some of that pain on her hit "The Way That I Love You." A dramatic arrangement, highlighted by a cascading, classically tinged piano part, provides the backdrop for this cheating song that ignites a fiery performance from Ashanti. Clearly, girlfriend's been burned: The next two tracks, the synth-infused "You're Gonna Miss" and the fierce, funky "So Over You," also find Ashanti declaring her independence from a man who has done her wrong. The singer tempers all the tough stuff with plenty of tenderness, though, on tunes like the singsong "Good Good" and the slow jam "In These Streets." Here you get the bitter and the sweet.

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