This week, Nelly redefined the meaning of flop by selling 1.800 copies of her latest album,The Ride, in the US. This has little to do with the quality of the album itself, as we will find out later on in the review, but rather with the fact that it was an entirely independent release with close to no promotion.
To start off, forget Nelly released Loose – that was 11 years ago. The Ride isn’t an easy album to digest, but it’s definitely a grower. Beginning with a quite interesting retro indie pop song called Cold Hard Truth and ending with the peaceful ballad that Phoenix is, The Ride is an incredibly varied record – not only lyrically but sonically as well. It is worth noting how a portion of the tracks relate to showing yourself in a true way – which could be linked with how she has decided to stay true to herself on this record, instead of forcing a more commercial version of her like she has done in the past ever since Loose. One of the most prominent exponents of this is probably Tap Dancing, where she makes the connection of tap dancing to hiding herself by doing something flashy (like it could be releasing commercial pop music). A line which I personally love from that track is “I shouldn’t have to dance at all for you to love me“, reflects perfectly the feeling of being fed up of trying to please everyone.
A great highlight of the album is the song that’s most definitely become one of her tour must-to-perform anthems, I’m talking about Sticks & Stones. Right from the beginning, its intro teases what evolves to be an stadium-ready song. The mix of instruments throughout The Ride is quite interesting and dry, which makes it quite unique. The synth motif right after the chorus is an instant classic which could perfectly fit on a car TV commercial!
Phoenix is probably one of the best songs I have listened in a long time, from the very first line, Nelly creates a delicate, nightly atmosphere which peels off any kind of emotional barrier which one could still have before playing it. The lyrics are incredibly sad and uplifting at the same time, they are about, basically, how sometimes we lose and have to face it. Drums are produced in quite a strange way – an ‘issue’ that is repeated throughout the record, making them sound a bit distorted, but that might as well be the sound Nelly was going for (like some retro vibes).
In conclusion, after quite a few years of releasing underwhelming albums, Nelly Furtado is definitely back. She is facing the fact that she will never top Loose in terms of success and it feels like she can’t be bothered anymore about it, The Ride is a clear reflection of this. I recommend our readers to seriously give this record a chance, starting with those songs mentioned in the review. Overall, a great album!
(8 / 10)