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Nelly Furtado - Folklore


Review: Jack Foley

NOW here's something that makes a refreshing change. A former pop diva being allowed to experiment and sounding much better for it.

Nelly Furtado burst onto the scene in 2001 with her hugely-popular Whoa Nelly! album, which produced the singles I'm Like A Bird, Turn Off The Light and My Love Grows Deeper, without ever sounding that different from countless other female-led pop records.

What did shine through, however, were Furtado's striking vocals, which leant many of the tracks a grittier edge, and which belied her tender age.

Still only 23, Furtado now follows up Whoa Nelly! with Folklore, a fun-filled journey through her musical roots, which actually marks a major progression for the talented artist.

Turning its back on the radio-friendly pop-format, Folklore combines elements of rock, with Furtado's Portuguese background, and folk, to deliver a truly accomplished album which should set her up well for the future.

The first thing you notice about it is the diverse mix of instruments being employed, which lend each track a far richer feel, courtesy of the strings of the Kronos Quartet, as well as banjo, accordion, tablas, pipe organ and harp, at different points.

Tracks such as Picture Perfect contain a bluesy-folkesy feel, reminiscent of Sheryl Crow at her huskiest, while forthcoming single, Powerless, is a no-nonsense, and powerfully defiant, record, given extra edge by some upbeat African percussion and Bela Fleck's addictive banjo.

Explode taps neatly into teenage angst and the pressures of growing up, while Saturdays recalls her experience of cleaning hotel rooms with her mother.

Outside influences come courtesy of Try, the type of record that wouldn't sound out of place on a Crowded House album, and the Latino-based hip-hop style of Fresh Off The Boat, which comes closest to anything from the first album, while still retaining its maturer focus.

Even the more ballad-like moments possess a quality which make a mockery of the singer's age; you can't imagine Britney Spears sounding so accomplished during moments such as the heartfelt Build You Up, one of several really beautiful moments on the album.

Indeed, there is barely a bad record among the 12 on show (only Childhood Dreams comes over a little too sweet, courtesy of its hymnal tones), making this an outstanding follow-up, and one of the year's most pleasant surprises to boot. We would urge you to check it out.

Track listing:
1. One Trick Pony
2. Powerless (Say What You Want)
3. Explode
4. Try
5. Fresh Off The Boat
6. Forca
7. Grass Is Green
8. Picture Perfect
9. Saturdays
10. Build You Up
11. Island Of Wonder
12. Childhood Dreams
13. Try (Acoustic) (UK Bonus track)
14. Enhanced video footage

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