Nelly Furtado’s first taste of the limelight came in the early 2000’s. The young singer had just released her DreamWorks debut, a Hip-Hop tinged Pop album, Whoa, Nelly, which yielded the massive hits, “I’m like a Bird” and “Turn off the Light”. Everyone knows those songs and after Nelly’s second album flopped commercially it seems that would be all they ever knew Furtado for. Then Timbaland came along and changed that. Fast forward to mid-2006, Furtado has gone through a major sound change, transforming her pop-hop beats in for a much darker more electronic, more serious rap-esque sound which seems to be quite successful. Loose’s lead single, Promiscuous has been blessed with gigantic success, both in the United States where it (at review time) has the #1 spot (Billboard Singles) and internationally. This success isn’t unjustified either. Promiscuous is a great song. Producer, Timbaland, steps up and trades off vocals with Furtado while still creating a great beat comprised of clever synth lines and soaring choruses. The lyrics, which follow the trading of words and flirting of two club goers looking to get into each others pants, aren’t genius but they fit the song quite well. Does the rest of the album stand-up to “Promiscuous” on both a commercial level and a (for lack of a better word) good level?
The first question was quickly answered when Furtado’s third release debuted at number one on the Billboard album chart. The second question is much harder to answer but for the next few paragraphs I will attempt it anyways. Let’s start by analyzing the production, which upon seeing that the majority of the album is produced by mainstream mastermind, Timbaland one would assume is good. Well, one would assume right. Timbaland and Co-producer Danja are geniuses at making beats for Mainstream Hip-Hop and Pop. They make creative, interesting beats but manage not to lose Pop sensibility. There isn’t one song on Loose that doesn’t make me want to get out of my chair and start dancing (if I’m not already). In fact the majority of the beats could easily carry interest without
Furtado’s vocals. There isn’t a whole lot of variety in the instruments (or tones) used to create the beats that back Furtado’s vocals. Usually songs feature lead synth riffs, and some kind of bass and drums. Of course this varies at points (i.e. the main riff in album opener, Afraid is an airy distorted guitar riff and Chris Martin co-written All Good Things is mostly acoustic guitar), but whatever the case the production on Loose is simply superb.
So, now it’s time to discuss Furtado’s vocals. While she isn’t Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado is a good singer. She doesn’t show off much on this album, which might be interpreted as a bad thing, but I don’t mind not having to hear a multi octave vocal solo on every track (though I’m not sure if Furtado could actually pull this off anyway). Her voice is smooth when singing, and pleasant to listen to. She also raps pretty well. Though I prefer her in English, Nelly also sings (and raps) quite well in Spanish, as demonstrated in songs like No Hay Igual and Te Busque. What Nelly sings is next, as it’s time for to talk about lyrics. Loose’s lyrics are pretty great for a pop album. Nelly goes from singing about flirting and such on the first half (Promiscuous included) to bearing (some of) her heart and soul on the heartbreak laden second half. This leads me to believe the album has some sort of loose (no pun intended) concept. Both sides of the album have definite highlights and lowlights.
is a strong representation of the second half. This pretty tune talks about heartbreak and features a nifty Spanish sung chorus. Furtado delivers one of her better lyrical performances on this song. She sings I look in the mirror the picture's getting clearer/ I wanna be myself but does the world really need her/ I ache for this earth/ I stopped going to church/ See god in the trees makes me fall to my knees/ My depression keeps building like a cup overfilling/ my heart so rigid I keep it in the fridge/ it hurts so bad that I can't dry my eyes/ cuz they keep on refillin' with the tears that I cry...
before breaking into a catchy (oddly enough, when I sing along I have no idea what I’m singing) Spanish chorus. Even with Furtado sings such personal lyrics; Te Busque could easily be a Top Ten single.
All in all, I believe the rest of Loose is easily as good (if not better) than its lead off single. Other than a few flop tracks, Furtado’s third release is great. Most of the songs are fun, but still quite good. The album’s lyrics, vocals and beats are good and the songwriting maintains the same pattern. If you are a fan of the genre (which unfortunately not many here are) than this comes highly recommended.