In the pop industry, 17 years is a lifetime. Since entire careers can blossom and fade into obscurity within the space of one record, it’s an increasing rarity for artists such as Nelly Furtado to be releasing her sixth studio album, ‘The Ride’, this year, having initially risen to prominence with 2000’s, ‘Whoa, Nelly!’.
Notwithstanding the feel-good falsetto and catchy melodies of her break-through single, ‘I’m Like A Bird’, Furtado gained most recognition for her 2006 record, ‘Loose’, which saw a transition into the radio and club-friendly R&B characterised by Timbaland’s production on the album. Yet, for fans of that distinctly mid-2000s, post-Aaliyah sound, ‘The Ride’ will be a disappointment.
Following on from a five-year hiatus, Furtado’s latest offering is largely a synth-pop collaboration with St. Vincent producer John Congleton. Congleton’s influence breeds inconsistency as up-tempo tracks like ‘Paris Sun’ and ‘Magic’ are jarring in their use of electronics, whereas the soft organ of ‘Pipe Dreams’ and balladry of ‘Phoenix’ showcases Furtado’s voice and songwriting capability.
Longevity is often characterised by reinvention in music, yet ‘The Ride’ stalls in its attempted inventiveness, instead finding success in its most pared down and familiar moments.
Words: Ammar Kalia
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