Nelly Furtado's re-invention as a pop-dance diva on Loose results in some of the hottest tracks of the year so far. Timbaland's excursions into pop territory as producer are as exciting as past hip hop achievements. Unfortunately the album peters out well before winding down. A strong argument could be made for purchasing the best tracks here as digital downloads and avoiding the rest.
A Sizzling Triple Play - Afraid, Maneater, and Promiscuous
Few recent pop albums kick off with the intensity of Nelly Furtado's Loose. The first track "Afraid" is a rousing call to personal faith and responsiblity. It closes with a brilliantly effective use of a middle school choir. Next up is the current UK #1 pop single "Maneater," an edgy tale of a femme fatale wrapped up in ultra-modern dance music that would make Kylie Minogue proud. This initial trilogy concludes with the sexy banter of Timbaland and Furtado on the current US hit "Promiscuous." The effect of this rapid-fire deployment of beats and hooks is riveting.
Unfortunately, this intensity proves impossible to maintain. However, the next set of 5 songs demonstrate the versatility of both the lead performer Nelly Furtado and producer Timbaland. The pair sound self-assured whether it's the gently swaying pop of "Showtime," percussive workout of "No Hay Igual," or the smooth texture of "Te Busque," a Latin pop collaboration with Colombian superstar Juanes. While quality of individual tracks doesn't match the way the album opened, the variety is more than enough to maintain a listener's interest.
Ghosts and Overreaches
The exploration of multiple styles overreaches in the closing tracks of Loose. "In God's Hands" ventures into what seems country-pop territory, and it is a style which does no favors for Nelly Furtado or Timbaland. It simply sounds sappy and lacking in commitment. As may have been expected, "Wait For You" conjures up the ghost of late Timbaland artistic partner Aaliyah and, unfortunately, Nelly Furtado pales in comparison for this type of tune. The album finally winds to a close (except for a bonus Spanish-language version of "Te Busque") with "All Things (Come to an End)," a particularly lifeless, shallow pop confection.
Nelly Furtado and Timbaland: A Partnership That Produces Heat and Light
Although the final third of Loose is disappointing, the achievements of this album should not be ignored. Nelly Furtado and Timbaland breathe exhilarating life into pop-dance music just when it seems that the only dance songs that make it to pop radio are formulaic retreads. However, the album does not feel as much like a unified artistic statement as it is a set of individual tracks trying out a variety of artistic directions. With this in mind, 5 or 6 songs from Loose would stand alone as tremendous additions to any summer mix tape.