While Esthero's sultry voice sounds the same (albeit a little more upbeat and a little less brooding), she's still struggling to find her style. Unfortunately, Wikked suffers as a result, and its potpourri of stylistic experiments immediately suggests other artists, whether Esthero intended to or not. She channels Ani DiFranco with spoken-word poetry ("Dragonfly's Intro"), Poe with sampled answering-machine messages ("My Honeybrown," "Brave Bear Woman"), and even Christina Aguilera's girls-can-be-naughty-too sass on the booty-shaking title track. And, much like Phair, Esthero inserts unnecessarily blatant sex talk into such songs as "If tha Mood," an ex-boyfriend seduction romp with a raunchy rap by Shakari Nite.
Esthero's style-jumping is jarring: a mostly up-tempo collection of songs hits a roadblock with the sluggish love ballad "Gone," a funereal-paced collaboration with Cee-Lo Green. It's that inability to stick to and develop one style that is Wikked's biggest downfall. Unlike Breath's unified whole, Wikked is a portrait of a girl still fighting to discover her niche.
-Catherine P. Lewis