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Artists :: F :: Nelly Furtado :: Loose :: Staff Review

Ignoring the legion of Rush fans, most music nuts will tell you Canada is the home of indie music thanks to critically acclaimed bands like The Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade. But now we have a new face that has popped up out of the blue in Canada: the Canadian-Portuguese self-described “punk-hop” artist Nelly Furtado. I knew the lovely Mrs. Furtado would dazzle me as soon as I saw the album art with her rather constipated-looking photo and the now unintentionally comical title “Loose” (what exactly does she want to be loose?!)

Wait? This her third album?

Apparently her last two albums, Whoa Nelly and Folklore, garnered positive review, but the second was commercially unsuccessful due to a more experimental nature. I don’t even remember them getting much radio play either, but her song “I’m Like a Bird” makes me think of the words “unique” and “annoying.”

What’s a Canadian-Portuguese pop princess to do? Re-invent yourself for commercial success. After coming off her pregnancy, Nelly Furtado somehow drifted away from her rather normal, nice-girl appearance and blossomed into a sultry, beautiful woman. I wasn’t aware giving birth could do that to a woman, but now Nelly Furtado can sensually contort her body and show off her booty in the music video for Promiscuous.

Hey, at least it worked. I mean, I did listen to the album after wiping the drool from my mouth.

Nelly Furtado has traded her old style of vocals away from a more accessibly, mainstream and radio friendly mix of pop and hip-hop. It’s nice that the sound of her voice no longer makes me run for the nearest club playing Tapes ‘n Tapes, but at the same time she sounds like about fifty other pop artists. I bet if someone punched me in the crotch, I too could deliver the same performance on Promiscuous. That is if I could live with myself after singing goofy, “sexy” lyrics like, “Move your body around like a nympho” or “I could see you with my t-shirt on / I could see you with nothin’ on.”

In fact, the main source of Loose’s greatness is producer Timbaland’s work. The style and feel of each track changes throughout the album but they’re generally hit-or-miss (fortunately with more hits). The album starts out with Afraid, a track strengthen with the electric feel and tons of layering on Furtado’s vocals. Maneater, the best song here, is next up with awesome synthesizers that whirl along with even more layering. The defining moment of the song occurs when Furtado’s voice begins doing the whirling too with a thunderous “AHAHAHAHAHA.” It’s totally unexpected and makes for a fun song. Factor in catchy pop hooks about a girl that’s a man-eater (one you wish you “never met at all”) and you have an addictive song that won’t get out of your head. Promiscuous is great thanks to the pseudo-rap feel, Timbaland’s additional smooth vocals, and the song’s screeching synthesizers, while No Hay Igual’s productions give a sinister feel that saves the all Spanish song from completely losing English speakers. Timbaland rescues several other tracks including Glow, Say It Right, Do It, and Wait for It. Despite a fair share of silly lyrics like, “Do it like you do it to me. I’m burning up.” Timbaland combines his catchy productions with Furtado’s pretty voice to create pop songs even this stuck up indie fan couldn’t hate.

Unfortunately Loose has its fair share of misses. Showtime’s melody reminds me of gospel music only with heavy electronics and lyrics about “light, camera, action!” In God’s Hands sounds like a million of soft female fronted ballads that came before it. That’s not to say it’s bad track but just a banal one. All Good Things comes off as boring, preachy music than anything else. Te Busque is an interesting bilingual song ruined by an embarrassingly awful duet with an unknown male Spanish singer.

As much as I don’t want to, I have to admit Loose has a solid number of tracks that I enjoy listening to. Nelly Furtado is a lot better than those other pop starts that currently own the charts, but a lot of it is from Timbaland’s excellent studio wizardry. Still Nelly Furtado contributes with catchy hooks, and even if her vocals aren’t significantly unique, there’s no denying the girl has a beautiful set of pipes. On a whole, this album does have several dreadful clunkers, the lyrics aren’t the best, and it shows that the singles Promiscuous and Maneater had more work put into them, but it’s a more consistently enjoyable effort than most pop albums today. If Furtado and Timbaland team up again, work on her lyrics, try to focus more on a solid album over making successful singles, then Nelly Furtado may someday have a classic pop album up there with the likes of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Rating: 7/10
Reviewer: genj
Reviewed: January 01, 2007

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