Nelly Furtado celebrates roots
"I am not a one-trick pony," Nelly Furtado sings over and over again on the first track of her new album, Folklore, released last week.
While Furtado repeats the mantra as if she is still unsure of her talent, her audience will be in no need of convincing-Folklore is a solid follow-up to her debut Whoa, Nelly! Furtado packs several solid tracks into the album, which should cause critics and fans alike to take notice.
That said, anyone expecting the Nelly Furtado of "Turn Off the Light" and "I'm Like a Bird" fame will be sorely disappointed: Folklore is conspicuously lacking in dance beats that will make for quality rap remixes. As the album title implies, in her sophomore effort Furtado has drifted toward a folksier, mellower sound, and has incorporated somewhat unorthodox instruments in some of her songs, like organs and wind chimes in "Childhood Dreams." Fortunately, none of this detracts from the unique talents that have made Furtado famous: her unusual voice and the poignant lyrics she writes herself, both of which are showcased to an even greater extent in this album.
Also notable in Folklore is Furtado's increased interest in and appreciation for her Portuguese roots. She sings in Portuguese on two tracks: "Fresh Off the Boat" and "For‡a." She also tackles the prejudice and discrimination she's faced as a performer in "Powerless," in which she sings "Paint my face in your magazines/ Make it look whiter than it seems/ Paint me over with your dreams." Unfortunately, tackling tough issues with her music and going back and forth between languages detracts from Furtado's flowing lyrics; these three songs are the weakest on the album.
On the other hand, Furtado really shines in some of her less complicated songs, like "Try," "The Grass is Green," "Picture Perfect," and "Childhood Dreams," where she is able to showcase her vocal ability without too many electronic influences. While Whoa, Nelly! showed that Furtado had the ability to make a good, danceable CD, Folklore gives her the chance to show off her true talent: her voice. While Furtado's lyrics are generally profound and poignant, they cannot stand alone; yet in both Whoa, Nelly! and Folklore, she has more than made up for her slightly-less-than-stellar lyrical ability.
All in all, anyone willing to give Furtado's softer, more mellow style a chance will not be disappointed. While the album is a mix of hits and misses, by and large her musical risks have paid off: Folklore gives us a more mature, developed impression of Furtado's musical style, and is a must-have for any Furtado fan, as well as anyone interested in the new directions she is taking with her music.
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