Jesse Jarnow

“say it right” – nelly furtado

Forays into alien terrain
“Say It Right” – Nelly Furtado (download here)
from Loose (2006)
released by Mosley (buy)

(file expires February 26th)

week of February 24, 2007
#1 this week, #2 last week, 14 weeks on chart

“Say It Right” is such a cohesive construction that its principle charm seems to be its atmosphere rather than its melody, at least until the chorus drops, and the vibe suddenly becomes epic and distinct. Specifically, for me, it conjures the set of a video. Which is odd. Songs usually trigger something, y’know, real, even if it’s just the proverbial dance floor. But the only place in which Timbaland and Danja’s production sounds organic, where the echoing of Timbo’s voice between murky digi-trees and the subliminal gurgle of water makes sense, is an artificial world. It would sound diluted if even the best live band arranged it. Yet it employs naturalistic cues throughout: bells playing a stereo-panned ambient counterpoint to the chorus, a woman’s voice (Furtado’s?) counting off an overdub, and (a few seconds later) the shimmering of an electric guitar during the outro that almost becomes a solo. So, even if the music exists firmly an imaginary world, it also sounds impossibly comfortable there. Totally mature, but I wish I liked the chorus more than I do, though I usually don’t at first listen.