How would the new Britney album have sounded if, like Nelly Furtado, she'd taken Portuguese folk as a starting point, and roped in the Kronos Quartet for good measure? It's hard to believe the two are the same age; the only sign that Folklore wasn't made by someone twice Furtado's 23 years is its post-pubescent earnestness. Nelly burbles about "not wanting to hide behind metaphor" and uncovering her "wiser self".
This admittedly brave follow-up to her hit debut, Whoa, Nelly! is a long way from pop'n'breakbeats; in fact, songs like Saturdays (acoustic guitar in echoey room), Fresh Off the Boat (Brazilian-flavour clapathon) and Island of Wonder (melancholy collaboration with Brazilian vocalist Caetano Veloso) suggest she's taken leave of her commercial senses. Good for her. The pressure to replicate Whoa, Nelly! is evident in the more popful The Grass is Green, but Folklore is essentially the sound of an artist taking a risk (and, amazingly, being allowed by her label to do it).