Album review: 'In a Perfect World,' by Keri Hilson

Patrick Varine

Keri Hilson has had her debut album, "In a Perfect World," delayed for more than a year, and she spent the time upping her R&B cred, which these days means cameos, cameos, cameos, flexing her pipes on chorus after chorus, most notably for Nas on his fall '08 single "Hero."

She finally gets her chance to shine, and it appears to have been worth the wait.

After a stumbling beat for the intro, she launches into "Turnin Me On," rocking a bouncy bass-and-drum track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Southern rap album. Lil' Wayne drops by for a freaky voice-filter cameo as well.

Production from Timbaland, Polow and Danja ranges in influence from world music ("Intuition") to dancehall ("Set Your Money Up") to hacky mid-'90s R&B ("Energy" and "Make Love"), but there are just enough off-beat instruments and tempo shifts to keep things interesting.

"In a Perfect World's" best moment is probably "Alienated," where a song about being pushed away is backed by a track that quickly morphs into otherworldly R&B. Akon, T-Pain and Ne-Yo also drop by for the occasional cameo, but Hilson is the album's real strength, playing up her sing-rapping ability and backing it up with a mid-range soprano that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with her peers.

"In a Perfect World" will be released on March 24. For more, visit Amazon.com.

Sussex Countian