Keri Hilson’s debut has been one of the more anticipated recent releases in R&B. The beauty has made a name for herself as a songwriter, and a cameo on Timbaland’s hit “The Way I Are” raised her profile and set the stage for her first official album, In a Perfect World…. Having already spawned three hit singles, my curiosity was piqued. I had to find out what Keri was all about.

I could’ve done without it. Perfect World is a mixed bag. Hilson has a pleasant singing voice. It’s a thin but deceptively versatile instrument very much like the voice of fellow R&B diva Ciara. The fact that Hilson writes her own material should vault her over the anonymous singers that share her style, but her songwriting is no great shakes. Unlike fellow soul singer/songwriters like, say, Ne-Yo (who co-stars opposite Hilson and Kanye West on the current hit Knock You Down, one of this album’s highlights), Hilson’s pen game is generic, and she hasn’t mastered the one art every great songwriter knows-melody.

My other issue with In a Perfect World…? Everything sounds super-canned. I have nothing against synth-pop, usually. However, the best of that sub-genre usually has some feeling behind it. Keri Hilson? Not so much. Even Aaliyah had an air of concentrated cool that permeated her records. This album has no soul, and I would think that the average person looking in the R&B section for an album would be looking for some kind of soul, right?

Keri Hilson’s definitely a talented lady, but maybe just not as talented as the press and hype machine would like us to believe that she is. In a Perfect World…sounds like it was focus-grouped into oblivion, tailor-made to fit onto pop and R&B radio circa 2009. The end result is listening to something like “Loose” or “FutureSex/LoveSounds” with all the character sucked out of it, which leaves you with danceable beats and not much else. And danceable beats alone do not make for a good album. So, ultimately, in a perfect world…, you’d be best off leaving this album in the rack at the record store.