Music reviews - 7.12.06 

Untitled Document



If Furtado’s last effort, 2003’s Folklore, was difficult for an American audience to dig into, she nailed it this time with Loose. Ditching her melodic-pop leanings and diving into club-friendly anthems, this disc has everything: glossy, danceable hits (with assistance from uber-producer Timbaland), bass-heavy beats, and even a couple of Spanish-language collaborations. The only thing the disc lacks is Furtado herself. Throughout Loose Furtado’s voice is often covered up (“Te Busque”) or limp (“Showtime”).

Up-tempo tracks stand out on the disc, like the synth-driven “Maneater” (a No. 1 hit in England) and the naughty, pulsing “Promiscuous” (a No. 1 hit in the US), though “Do It” sounds a bit tiresome. And while the ballad “All Good Things” is a fitting closer, “In God’s Hands” reeks of clichés. Though overall a strong disc, anyone who liked Furtado before will wonder if she feels any shame for allowing herself to “re-invent” herself in such a commercialized, obvious way.

--- Todd Rezsnyak



Righteous Babe

Though we could certainly have expected her to give us her take on Hurricane Katrina anyway, the disaster literally hit home for Ani DiFranco, who still operates a recording studio in New Orleans. DiFranco, in fact, was forced to leave the master tapes for this album behind and braved the storm to get them back. With DiFranco stranded in Buffalo for months and following doctor’s orders to stay off the road, Reprieve’s stillness comes as no surprise. Almost the entire album flows gently by like a brook in undisturbed woods. Her second self-produced effort, Reprieve arguably gels sonically more than anything else in DiFranco’s body of work. She and Todd Sickafoose (the album’s only other musician) each play multiple instruments, but mostly fill the music with vast space. Thankfully, DiFranco opted to use New Orleans as a metaphor for more general issues, which makes Reprieve a compelling exercise in asking what perseverance is worth in the face of hardship on many levels.

--- Saby Reyes-Kulkarni



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