Nelly Furtado – The Ride (Album Review)

Nelly Furtado – The Ride (Album Review)

nelly-2017-3Several more successful singles and a number of Grammy Awards nominations had secured Furtado’s place in the music industry, paving the way for her to release more music. As a result, the star further developed her distinctive style – a melding of Dance Pop, Folk roots, Hip-Hop rhythms and beats, and cultural-diversity aspirations, which also highlight her Portuguese heritage.

Born in British Columbia, Canada, of Portuguese parents, Furtado is regarded now as one of the most successful Canadian artists, selling over 40 million records worldwide. To date, she has six studio albums on her sleeves – from the culturally rooted aforementioned debut to 2003’s follow-up, Folklore, to 2006’s R&B flavored Loose, to 2009’s slightly angular Alternative Pop, Spanish-worded Mi Plan to the t.A.T.u./Portishead-reminiscent Electronic/Trip-Hop excursions of 2012’s The Spirit Indestructible. Finally, five years later, Furtado is back with the highly anticipated new album The Ride.

Released on March 31, 2017 via own record label, Nelstar Music, Furtado’s latest album is a journey through a spectrum of various styles. It opens with the four-on-the-floor, Alternative Dance track “Cold Hard Truth,” which may remind the initiated of the same electrified pumps and jams of the likes of Madonna’s “Die Another Day,” Lady Gaga’s “Judas,” and P!nk’s “So What.” The same dancey beat and pulse continues on with the angular-rhythmed “Flatline.” Furtado then switches to sentimental mode with the shimmering, heart-rending ballad “Carnival Games.” A change of pace occurs immediately with the ensuing “Live,” which is oozing with Pop sensibilities and a hint of New Wave melodies. Then there is the sensuous swing and soulful sway of “Paris Sun” – romantic and classy at the same time.

Then there is “Sticks and Stones” which revisits the exotic Indie Pop allure of Folklore, with its melodies exuding faint echoes of Presence’s “Act of Faith,” Tegan and Sara’s “Closer,” and Bastille’s “Pompeii.” The following “Magic” exudes the same sonic aesthetics, which features a mélange of tinny keyboard-generated bells as well as woodwind and string melodies. It will fit on a playlist that includes O.M.D.’s “Enola Gay,” Pictures of Innocence’s “Love & War,” April Showers’ “Abandon Ship,” SSQ’s “Synthicide,” Berlin’s “Metro,” and The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.”

The slow and sensual ballad “Pipe Dreams” is a different touch of tone, part R’n’B, part Sophisti-Pop. “Palaces” returns the listener to Dance territory, albeit in a bit dim-lit corner of the lounge. Another romantic interlude, “Tap Dancing” shines and stands out with Furtado’s heartfelt singing voice adorned with shiny and sparkly staccato melodies. Nearing the end of the trip, “Right Road” brings the entire album to its generally subtle mood, owing to its slashing synthesizer slides. Finally, The Ride whispers its very appropriate ending – the graceful, gentle rhythm and overall airy, ambient sea of sound of “Phoenix” – waving, undulating, kindling, rising, relaxing, resting.

Furtado had been placed in the past alongside equally glorious princesses of Pop music – the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and even P!nk – for her musical excursions to Dance Pop territories (which is not a bad thing). However, the Portuguese-Canadian artist deserves a better recognition and assessment of her music, which is really more than Pop, for it transcends cultures and breaks boundaries. Furtado’s expedition has indeed been a long ride, but her creative evolution is well cultivated; and her sonic vision, deeply rooted. CrypticRock gives The Ride 4 out of 5 stars.


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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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