Toronto-based singer and songwriter Nelly Furtado has come out with her sixth studio album, The Ride, and the title certainly does the album justice. We are taken through diverse songs that harken back to the indie-pop roots of the singer as we follow-up with Furtado after her last music release in 2012. Be prepared when listening to hear a major shift in sound; the album sharply deviates from her pop star years when songs like “Promiscuous” and “Maneater” were all over the radio.
At first glance it’s obvious how the singer has readjusted her image in the ten years since those songs peaked on the charts. The simplistic green album cover has a picture of Furtado with a short pixie cut and holding an array of yellow flowers. This outside is quite indicative of the music found within, a mixture of indie and synth beats that intertwine with steadfast vocals. The Ride, unlike all of her past albums, was produced and released by her own record label, Nelstar Music. The influence of this is obvious as the songs progress.
Overall, the message emphasized is one of pain and demonstrating the harshness of reality. However there is constant optimism and hope for pulling through. “Cold Hard Truth” is a great example that shows you can get through everything, no matter how many times you are pushed over. It doesn’t lament the broken relationship, but rather she sings with finality, “’Cause you and I were meant, we were meant to be alone, alone, alone.” This song is the closest to matching Furtado’s Loose-era sound.
There are slight differences with definite ‘80s vibes from almost every track, especially “Paris Sun.” The chorus almost sounds straight from a Madonna album, and her light and almost breathy signing seems to be almost an imitation. The electronic breakdown is also a throwback to times where big hair and blue eyeshadow were all the rage.
There is a beauty in simplicity, and Furtado can be given credit for taking that notion and running with it on The Ride. The lyrics in most of the songs deliver a message that encourage independence and getting through the hard times. Musically, however, there seems to be less consistency. Certain songs are muddled by too many strange instrumentals at one time and the listener is bombarded with contrasting and dissonant sounds. “Flatline” in specific is an example of this and it causes it to fall a little flat.
Each song on this album has it’s place, and altogether make for an interesting album. It’s a side of Nelly Furtado we haven’t been exposed to, though many may be disappointed and miss her classic songs. The album overall has an almost cleansing and relaxing energy, and the lyrics encourage self-renewal and being introspective. It’ll certainly lead you to take a step back from life and live in the moment, even if it as momentary as the length of one of her songs.