Nelly Furtado has a Great Plan

Nelly Furtado seems to have a great plan for her introduction into Latin music with her 1st CD in Spanish titled “Mi Plan”. The pop album was well planned by Furtado, as the song selection along with the signing duets in several songs, produced a recording of great musical variety and excellent quality.

Chances are that, as fans of Latin music, you have at least heard of Nelly’s CD by now. The pop artist has given a lot of publicity to “Mi Plan” by appearing in TV shows, music awards, and magazine covers. Doesn’t hurt that the Canadian artist of portuguese ancestry has the looks of a model. The question is how many of you have acutally heard the album.

The Songs in “Mi Plan”
Most of the songs in “Mi Plan” were written by Nelly Furtado, in many cases in collaboration with her guest artists. Singer Alex Cuba and musician and recording engineer James Bryan helped Nelly by participating in the creation of some of the songs. These collaborations helped mold the songs to the different styles of the invited singers, making the duets flow naturally, and providing a nice variety of muscial styles which keep the album interesting to listen from start to end.

The single selected for the promotion of the album, “Manos Arriba”, is one of the album songs that I like the least. So if you are judging the album based on “Manos Arriba” then good news; it only gets better from there. I mention this in case you got discouraged by the song to listen to the entire album. There is something about this song that just doesn’t work for me. But once I get passed that song, you get to “Mas” and album title song “Mi Plan”, with Alex Cuba, start infecting you with the album’s energy.

Just as you are getting into that album energy, you then shift moods with the ballady “Sueños” sang beautifully with Alejandro Fernandez, and then switch again to a more folky-urban “Bajo Otra Luz” co-written with the very talented Mexican Julieta Venegas, and performed by Nelly, Julieta, and the timely addition of Maria “La Mala” Rodriguez, adding the urban element to it. Very fun song to listen to, with Julieta’s influence painted all over it, and ending with the three artist sharing a natural laugh captured at recording when the song ends, showing how much fun they had making the song.

My album’s favorite song is the catchy “Vacacion” with Julieta Venega’s hand felt through the song, as she co-wrote it with Nelly and although she does not sing in it, she participates in the accordeon. I just love the very distinctive style of the song and its lyrics. The spanish and cuatro guitars, the accordeon, and Nelly’s singing make this one of those songs you want to listen driving your car with the windows and sunroof open in a summer afternoon. Love it!

The rest of the album includes the pop-ballady “Silencio” with tenor-voiced Josh Groban, and another of my favorites in “Como Lluvia” with the great Dominican singer-songwritter Juan Luis Guerra. This bachata-like pop song is again a perfect fit for a Nelly-Juan Luis duet, and it performed beautifully, with Nelly showcasing how well she hits the high notes, and Juan Luis warmly touching the lows.

“Mi Plan” Performances:
Besides the great variety of songs in “Mi Plan” the performances are excellent. I had not listen carefully to Nelly’s english songs, but she demostrates how well she can use the vocal range. Nelly has a naturally higher-pitch voice, so her dominance in the high notes is superb. She can also sing well in the low range, but that part is played for the most part to her duet guest signers. Nelly’s voice dominates in duests due to her high pitch, but works very well in the songs with Alex Cuba, Alejandro Fernandez, and Juan Luis Guerra. With Julieta Venegas and Concha Buika the duets are more of harmonious singing or singing by parts of the song, rather than overlaced dual voices. Again, all these collaborations were well planned.

Then there is Nelly’s Spanish. Nelly can speak Spanish (as you can see in the related LatinoWebCafe related article linked below) but her fluency and pronunciation still need practice. As with most non-native Spanish speakers, you can notice her anglo pronunciations of the “ll”s and “r”s. Yet, unless you are looking for that sort of thing, Nelly’s Spanish comes accross very good in her performance.

The music and arrangements in the album are of impecable quality, regardless of the style of the song. Mostly recorded in Toronto, with some pieces recorded in Miami, Los Angeles and in Juan Luis Guerra’s studio in the Dominican Republic, this album is a great recording any way you listen to it.

Shouldn’t it be “Nuestro Plan”?
One of the things that impressed me the most about “Mi Plan” was the great collaboration Nelly did to get this album done. She collaborated and shared in writting the songs, in singing in duets, and the producion, arrangements, recording studios, etc., are all done by various people. This plan was put together by the great collaboration of a bunch of people, and it shows in the excellent result.

Highly Recommend “My Plan”:
Based on all said above, I do highly recommend “Mi Plan” if you like some Latin pop music. As you might know by now, my favorite genres within Latin music are Salsa and Latin Jazz. But I love most kinds of Latin music, and pop is no exception. But when I listen to pop, I must be the kind that makes me feel alive, not the depressing type. This is a very upbeat album which is fun to listen.
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