album reviews

Nelly Furtado
Geffen (2006)

Radio listeners who lost track of Nelly Furtado after her pop single "I'm Like a Bird" in 2000 might be surprised at the dance-y, beat-driven style of her latest, "Loose." But Furtado's change of gears isn't as jarring as it might seem, thanks in no small part to her pairing with hip-hop producer Timbaland.

Timbaland's signature sound pervades the album's first single, "Promiscuous," with its thumping rhythm and bleeping synths. In this duet, Furtado channels the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie: Her sultry vocals convey seduction that's more flirtatious than sleazy (think: "My Humps" without the inane lyrics). She and Timbaland hit another home run with the growling "Maneater," which recalls the cheerleader rhythms of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" but with Furtado's gravelly sass.

Furtado excels at the fast-paced booty-shakers -- "No Hay Igual" is a Spanish dance track highly influenced by reggaeton (the fusion of hip-hop and reggae), while "Wait for You" captures a youthful energy without sounding juvenile. But Timbaland's magic can only go so far, and "Loose's" slower numbers bring Furtado's raw animalism to a screeching halt. The dreaminess of "Showtime" turns Furtado into a generic R&B crooner, while her feverish moans on "Say It Right" are overwhelmed by the song's fierce beats. Despite a few such shaky moments, the CD's driving energy makes Furtado's dance persona more convincing than calculated.

-Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 21 June 2006, Page C05
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