Nelly Furtado - Loose Review
I don't know anyone who doesn't love 'Maneater', the first single, with it's crazy retarded beats and skittish rhythm, a lovechild born out of the creative juices of both Nelly and Timbaland, hip-hop producer, makes one of the most danceable, get-up-off-your-seats-now songs for a long while. 'Maneater' as been a long time coming. Much like Rihanna's stomper 'SOS' it combines the powers of pop, dance and hip-hop, also throwing in a little bit of folk. The resultant sound so sweet that Willy Wonka would want the sugar-free version.
And the rest of the album follows suit. Timbaland crops up all over the album, making an appearance, no more so than on the next single, 'Promiscuous'. Unfortunately, 'Promiscuous' lands just short of it's potential and is probably the worst song on the album, making the disjointedness just sound messy. However, on songs like opener 'Afraid' and 'Glow' Timbaland's influence is stamped heavily on Nelly. Timbaland is able to give Ms Furtado not only guidance, but also some kind of direction that her work has previously been lacking.
Timbaland's influence, however, has not meant that Nelly has neglected her latinfolk roots. 'No Hay Igual' is the result of taking Timbaland's beats to rural Portugal, it makes 'Folklore's latin moments like 'Forca' look like child's play. It even manages to tower above 'Maneater' and become easily the second best song of the album (the first best is yet to come). When I listen to 'No Hay Igual' I'm reminded not of summer but more specifically of that musty nearly-September warm dusk feeling. If this isn't a single then Nelly is a stupid doofus!
'Try', it must be said, remains Nelly's greatest moment for me, despite everything 'Loose' brings to the table. 'Loose' contains three major ballads each of which is probably worthy of a single release. 'Te Busque', much like 'No Hay Igual', is drenched in latin influence but this time the sound is much more longing and aching. Weirdly, and perhaps intentionally, the introduction sounds like 'Shape Of My Heart' by Craig David and Sting. 'In God's Hands', thankfully, doesn't sound anything like Craig David or Sting and comes the closest as possible to replicating 'Try''s sound. It achieves in part, and does such a good job of replicating it that it does actually sound like Nelly is just singing different lyrics over the same song, only it doesn't work quite as well this time. Step forward Chris Martin. Chris Martin and Nelly Furtado are apparently celeb chums now and Chris waves his magic 'chillingly poignant and beautiful and brilliant slow song' wand and creates 'All Good Things' for Nelly, which neatly bookends the album (if you ignore all of the bonuses). Timbaland's beats do feature but the panpipes and acoustics dominate, as does the brilliant whistling. I can not sing this song's praises enough, seriously. It is the song of the album. Buy the album, download the album, steal the album, do whatever, you need to hear this song. It's nearly six minutes long so it'll need to be shortened when (not if) it gets a single release.
'Say It Right' and 'Showtime' are what can only be described as 'mid-tempo'. Much like 'Promiscuous', there's nothing wrong with them per se, but they just don't work as well as they could. To be honest,these song let the album down and in doing so remind us that Nelly has a lot of potential left in here, as great as 80% of her album is. It's not perfect, we're not dealing with the album of the year, that's 'We Are The Pipettes', this can be a close second though.
'Say It Right' isn't helped by the fact that it's sandwiched between 'Te Busque' and the album's out-and-out, unashamed pop stomper, 'Do It' which might just be better than 'Maneater', I haven't decided for certain, I'll keep you posted. 'Wait For You' is another stomper which has an element about it that's consistent throughout the album: This is Nelly Furtado, and no-one else has ever, or will ever, sound quite like this.
And that sounds like as good a point as any to end the review, don't you think? 'Loose' is at times ambitious, mixing latin-folk influences and a contemporary hip-hop 'crunk' sound, throwing in a Chris Martin ballad, but builds strongly on the foundations laid down in the first two albums. I dare say if anyone other than Ms Furtado were at the helm of this ship, the ship may sink with over-occupancy or speed off too fast into an iceberg. But Nelly is no ordinary popstar, she ash a unique sound, distinctive voice, new-found direction and, perhaps most importantly, she keeps a firm grasp on her work and has a control others can just envy. As a result this cruise ship maneuvers like a fishing boat on a lake and the only ice is in the alcohol.
Here, as a little treat, as I don't normally do this, and also a taster to make you go out and buy the album, are two of the best songs as well as Nelly's cover of Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy'. Enjoy! And remember, if you have something to say about my review, the two tracks below or Nelly in general, drop me a comment.
No Hay Igual