Picks and Pans Review: Folklore

updated 12/01/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/01/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

Nelly Furtado

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"I am not a one-trick pony/I really feel nothing can hold me," sings Nelly Furtado on this disc's plucky opener, "One-Trick Pony." Indeed, the song, which juxtaposes bluegrassy banjo, a shuffling hip-hop beat and a string arrangement performed by the Kronos Quartet, announces that Furtado, 24, will not be pigeonholed on this eclectic follow-up to her double-platinum debut, 2000's Whoa, Nelly! The singer-songwriter puts the folk in Folklore by adding acoustic instrumentation that you might expect to hear on a Dolly Parton album, while also incorporating pop, electronica, trip-hop and R&B funk. The result is a fresh fusion on tracks like the infectious "Powerless (Say What You Want)," which comes closest to matching Furtado's Grammy-winning hit "I'm Like a Bird." Not all of it flies, though; Furtado falters while honoring her Portuguese heritage on "Forca." But thanks to quirky vocals, more introspective lyrics ("Sometimes my skin's so thick it's frail," on the ballad "Childhood Dreams") and a sense of musical adventure, Furtado easily avoids the sophomore slump.

POP-CLASSICAL

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