You know, not all pop music in the early 2000s was Britney Spears, N’Sync, and Backstreet Boys. Although the Eurodance, Bubblegum Pop sound was the dominant pop style, there were artists like David Grey and Pete Yorn that had more of a 70s sound when it came to their guitar driven pop music. These were glimmers of hope in a pop landscape littered with jailbait balding 40 something perverts could fantasize about. At the end of the inaugural year of the new millennium, “Whoa, Nelly!” was released to the public, propelled by the hit single, “I’m Just a Bird”.
Despite her young age, flawless skin and piercing eyes, she wasn’t marketed as the latest pop princess to grace the dance floor. She was pop music to be sure, but she didn’t claim to be not that innocent, she didn’t sing in pitch perfect harmonies and she didn’t wear skin tight leather to accentuate her figure. Instead she just sat against a tree, interacted with nature and knew she didn’t know where her soul was. Nelly Furtado wasn’t about flashy productions in her videos where she went to space; she was about well crafted quirky pop songs that conveyed personal yet uncontrived messages. She let her Canadian and Portuguese heritage be heard, Dance-Pop be damned.
Furtado’s first album has great singles in “Turn Off The Light” and “Shit on the Radio”, as well as the now classic “I’m Just a Bird”. The album itself has more with the well produced opening track “Hey, Man!”. The looping orchestra sample throws you off at first until molding into just another instrument in a well crafted pop/rock song. “There’s a shadow in the sky and it looks like rain, and shit is gonna fly once again,” Furtado prophesizes. “Shit on the Radio” is a driving pop song that gives Furtado weight and authority in her performance. Later on the album, “Well Well” is a melancholy ditty that works well with Furtado’s nasally drawl singing voice. “Scared of You” is a beautiful, Latin influenced song in which Furtado changes her voice and sings in a beautiful rich contralto pitch, in Portuguese no less.
However, her first album also has some trappings that a first album would. Some of the more eccentric tracks, like “Trynna Finda Way” and “Baby Girl” don’t work well and some songs like “Legend” and “Party” are just pleasant distractions rather than well written songs. Even with it’s shortcomings, Nelly Furtado’s first album is still interesting to hear with no mundane songs and few week tracks. Although not a great album, it is an interesting one and is much better than the predictable albums that came out in pop music around that time. I highly recommend people hear this if just for a listen.
Final Verdict: 3 out of 5