Eclectic debut from eclectically-raised singer
There might be little Deep South rapping here, but like her famous namesake, this Nelly’s got her own peculiar grammar. She just hasn’t decided for which country yet.
Already huge in America, Portuguese by heritage and Canadian by birth, she uses her multi-cultural background for an easy eclecticism that takes in traditional female singer-songwriting alongside Latino,
R&B and gentle hip-hop. Accordingly – and blessed with model looks – she’s already a
style mag’s dream.
Whether she’ll be a musical
one is more tricky. Which – as it’s already on heavy rotation – makes her decision to call another song ‘Shit On The Radio (Remember The Days)’ just a little rich. Or it would be, if that song didn’t prove Nelly has just enough alternative style to give it a backbone of R&B steeliness. Meanwhile, ‘Baby Girl’ is sweeter, with fiesta horns and an electro-smooth take on Destiny’s Child’s lyrical concerns. Opener ‘Hey, Man!’ sounds like The Sundays gone Mardi Gras crazy. Lord.
Allowing bonus points for successfully merging personal lyrics and shuffling beats
without once evoking lazy trip-hop, she still too often confuses blandness for adult sophistication.
There’s enough here, however,
to suggest she could become
a less irritatingly prima donna
Jennifer Lopez, or an interesting, beat-driven Dido. All she need
do is refine her musical syntax.