Nelly Furtado in charge on comeback album The Ride
Ten years ago Nelly Furtado was one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. The Canadian-Portuguese singer and songwriter just launched her major pop album Loose back then and had hit after hit with singles like ‘Maneater’, Promiscuous’, ‘Say It Right’ and ‘All Good Things’. Like many pop stars before her, Furtado came to the realization that success does not last forever after both a Spanish languaged album and follow up Spirit Indestructible failed to make much of an impact. Furtado decided to take a break to find herself again as an artist and is now back with the independently released album The Ride.
Furtado going indie meant a lot less buzz around her new releases at the start of this era, when she uneventfully dropped the disappointing track ‘Islands Of Me’ (now used as a bonus track only) on SoundCloud. Let us just consider that track as a bit of a false start, because the rest of the album is actually more than enjoyable. The Ride starts off with the electro pop track ‘Cold Hard Truth’, serving thick beats, a seductive bass line and some deep synths. The chorus is bright and soars over the loud production. ‘Flatline’ follows a similar sound and vocally Furtado excels on the chorus begging for her love interest to resuscitate her. Those two tracks set the mood for the album perfectly.
Furtado mainly worked with John Congleton who co-wrote and produced most tracks with her, providing the album with a convincing sense of unity. The Ride ultimately is an electronic pop album, but at the same time allows the chameleon artist to experiment with different sub genres. The lovely ballad ‘Carnival Games’ subtly flirts with country in its verses while first single ‘Pipe Dreams’ delivers dreamy synth pop. Nelly goes all out on the seductive in your face funk of ‘Paris Sun’ while tracks like ‘Palaces’ and Arlissa cover ‘Sticks and Stones’ deliver straightforward pop hooks with flawless productions. It is impressive how dynamic The Ride is, effortlessly moving from the loud and sharp synths of ‘Right Road’ to the subdued and heartbreaking ‘Phoenix’, on which Furtado at the same time shows to have gained even greater control of the higher register of her unusual vocal style.
Not surprisingly, lyrically The Ride seems to be Furtado’s most mature and personal work. She started writing the album after what she describes as an extremely difficult part in her life. ‘Phoenix’ about getting up after you fall was the first track she wrote and it feels like Furtado healed in the process of creating this record. It is about getting yourself back on track, learning to deal with being on your own and cautiously daring to look forward while letting go of what should stay in the past.
This is an artist letting us hear the music that she wants to make without any pressure to sell. Furtado seems comfortable with her position in the pop landscape and the passion for her new music is hearable in every minute of the record. And let’s be real here; she does not have to prove herself anymore. She has been in te business for over 15 years, her debut single ‘I’m Like A Bird’ became an absolute classic, dominated the charts for months with Loose and absolutely deserves the time and space to create and release the music she wants to, catchy and radiofriendly or not. We are just very lucky she still has a great ear for pop melodies and knows exactly what works for her voice, which results in thoroughly enjoyable and worthy new material.