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Reviews 09/01/2004

Album Of The Week: Nelly Furtado

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by Mikey (Gillingham, Kent, UK) - Each week I preview an album which I think deserves a listen to and if it's worth to buy, I will cater for all tastes of music from R'n'B to Rock, Hip hop and Pop. At the end of the page, you will find all future album releases.

Nelly Furtado - Folklore
Release Date: 24 November 2003

How do you follow a double platinum-selling debut album? You look to your roots. And what roots. On her second album, Folklore, Nelly Furtado takes a hard left turn. The colourful but incomplete fusion of her debut, Whoa, Nelly!, gives way on this tellingly titled record to an approach that lets in some acoustic sounds which take the music in an entirely different, richer direction. At times sounding like a dead ringer for singer-writer Sam Phillips, Furtado aims for more rock-oriented ground without losing the Brazilian influences that are so much a part of her identity. Her voice and tunes are strong, and both words and music paint a picture of a young woman still very much in movement, change, flux. It's an intriguing sound, and one that thoughtful listeners will cherish.

There's nothing new about Western pop stars dabbling in the music of South America; Sting, David Byrne and Paul Simon being but three luminaries who have drawn on the continent's rich musical traditions. What makes this album so novel, however, is that it comes from a mainstream star, one more accustomed to the front cover of teeny magazines, rather than in-depth 16-page features in Mojo or Rolling Stone.

This is certainly no Rhythm Of Saints, however, possessing neither the lyrical density or musical richness of Paul Simon's early '90s masterpiece that explored more fully than any Western artist, before or since, the possibilities of Brazilian music. That said there's an instinctive playfulness about tracks like Forga and The Grass Is Green that has its own appeal.

Such Latin influences were evident on Nelly's multi-platinum selling debut album, Whoa, Nelly! Which wasn't so surprising, and there are plenty of catchy songs on this album. Explode is the kind of song that gradually insinuates its way into your consciousness, Try has a simple back porch charm and Fresh Off The Boat, for all its in your face hip-hop stylings, has a basic clap-along appeal. Island of Wonder, meanwhile, is the album's standout track, hinting at maturity far beyond Nelly's 23 years.

Nelly's youthful naivety is, however, evident on the opening track One Trick Pony, which includes the line: "I am not a one-trick pony, nobody can control me." Well that remains to be seen, especially if this album doesn't sell in the same quantities as its predecessor.

What is most striking about Folklore is the sheer sense of fun conveyed by these tracks. As Nelly herself puts it: "Folk is universal; it exists in every single country, every nation, every language, this idea of somebody picking up a guitar and singing about what's around him or her. It's spontaneous, real, down-to-earth, family-oriented." Such an attitude is especially refreshing at a time when most pop albums appear to have been written by committee and have all the spontaneous charm of a George Bush speech. You have to admire Nelly's courage in coming up with an album that, while not packing the same commercial punch as her debut, has infinitely more character than any of her contemporaries you would care to name.

Full marks, too, for the record company that gave Nelly what appears to be a free hand to make this album, which deserves to be a monster festive hit but, sadly, probably won't be.

1. One-Trick Pony
2. Powerless (Say What You Want)
3. Explode
4. Try
5. Fresh Off The Boat
6. Forga
7. Saturdays
8. Picture Perfect
9. The Grass Is Green
10. Build You Up
11. Island of Wonder
12. Childhood Dreams

Album Release Schedule

January 12
Alistair Griffin - Bring it on

January 19
Amy Studt - False Smiles

January 26
Air - Talkie Walkie
JC Chasez - Schizophrenic

February 2
Lost Prophets - Start Something
Clea - Identity Crisis
Jaimeson - Think On Your Feet

February 9
Emma - Simply Me
Joss Stones - The Soul Sessions

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