CD: Nelly Furtado, Loose

With a little Timbaland-injected urban attitude, the folkstress unleashes her inner lapdancer. Paul Flynn is impressed

In America, they call it 'the stone-cold urban makeover': a restless pop kitten is invested with some street moves by a frisky new mentor to save herself from complete commercial ruination. Gwen Stefani did it with Dr Dre. Mariah Carey introduced Ol' Dirty Bastard into the creases of her ballgowns. Even Whitney had a shot at it, pre-crack breakdown, on the brilliantly realised My Love Is Your Love set. And now Nelly Furtado, hot on the heels of her vastly underperforming campfire suite, Folklore, has stepped out of her comfort zone of strummed, mid-paced, Oprah-style confessionals with the production assistance of Missy Elliott beat-aide Timbaland.

She does it mostly in a musical G-string. Yup, Loose was given it's name for a reason. Who knew that beneath her musical kaftan there lay a vamp-ish sex kitten waiting to lock her predatory bedroom moves against some refined techno funk? 'Maneater' is the finest introductory single to a Timbaland-produced record since Aaliyah's 'Try Again'. Making brisk work of getting to its splendid chorus, the beatsmith achieves a deft piece of career re-positioning. The sense of Furtado finding a whole new soundscape to lock horns against is exhilarating.

Indeed, mostly casting its leading lady in the wilful role of carnal instructor, Loose is the record the Pussycat Dolls can but dream of anchoring. There is little in the way of cheap, plastic breathlessness among all the frank talk. If this is music made with a lapdancing club demographic in mind - and, let's be honest here, it is - then it is at least fashioned with the thought of Gabrielle from Desperate Housewives taking a shot at the pole. 'Do It' drops an early Eighties Street Sounds electro-pop motif into some frisky footwork from Timbaland. 'Promiscuous' is a brilliant cold call to the boudoir, as the enchanting Furtado v2.0 rat-tat-tats against Timbaland over a beat like quiet thunder. This is glorious, 21st-century Technicolor pop, climaxing in the reggaeton-flavoured 'No Hay Igual'. Career-rehabilitation effected, it is clear the girl can funk.

Download: 'Maneater'; 'No Hay Igual'; 'Promiscuous'


Paul Flynn

The GuardianTramp

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