Nelly Furtado – Whoa, Nelly! (2000)

After a series of eclectic studio albums that go anywhere from distinctive (2003’s Folklore”) to mainstream (2006’s “Loose”), it’s peculiar to return to Nelly Furtado’s debut album. Here, Furtado is clearly relishing the opportunity to record a studio album and has a variety of inspiration to draw upon, all of which are featured here: Hip-hop, world music, mainstream pop, singer-songwriter, folk, etc. It’s all manned by the performer herself, whose voice is confident and clear on each song regardless of the genre, and reveals some of her more experimental instincts that point the way to later albums like 2012’s “The Spirit Indestructible” and 2017’s “The Ride.” Furtado’s exuberant energy and remarkable control over the album’s overall sound are compelling from beginning to end, making this one of the most representative, strong mainstream debuts of the aughts.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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