Natalia Lafourcade. (Groove Corner).
Sony Music Latin
Nelly Furtado and Natalia Lafourcade is where our tale begins. These diminutive singer/songwriters live up to all the hype. An eclectic ear for music, our performers like to dip into rock, pop, funk, hip-hop, dance, freestyle, drum'n'bass ... let's just say categorization is a bit of a no-no. But where would Lafourcade be if it wasn't for Furtado? Turn the clock back a couple of years and critics around the globe were being wowed by a young Canadian singer of Portuguese descent. Furtado's debut album "Whoa Nelly!" was a glorious two-finger salute to the sanitized, packaged pop with which individuals such as Britney Spears and Mandy Moore had been paralyzing our eardrums.
Here was a "real" teen-age sensation who could sing live, had an actual band and strutted around stage with unabashed street kudos. Moreover, Furtado's album was based on fusion, crucial in the way it reflected how kids today don't wed themselves to one style of music.
Thanks to her efforts, record companies toned down their hunt for more spray-on pants and bleached blonde hair and trained their eyes on finding a little more vocal talent. Which brings us to Natalia.
Buffeted by the success of her title track on director Fernando Sarinana's "Amar te Duele," a Romeo and Juliet tale set in Mexico City, Natalia entered our world with her self-titled debut album. This 17-year-old chilanga might balk at being called the Latin Furtado, but the crude comparison is not wholly unfair. On the contrary, what the press alludes to in drawing such a parallel is that Lafourcade posesses almighty talent.
Displaying the similar mix of musical styles on Furtado's record, Lafourcade isn't shy to experiment even further by plunging from funk to samba to drum'n'bass all in one song.
Kicking off the melange with the acapella "Introduccion," Lafourcade wants to make one thing clear: she has a voice and she doesn't need to hide behind over-produced numbers. It's something she makes a point of throughout the album, sporadically cutting off the music to carry a song on her vocals alone.
Cliche or not, youth tends to drive the festive spirit behind "Natalie Lafourcade" and in "En El 2000" (her current smash hit) the listener is treated to a rousing pop song that, true to the genre, is pure feel-good music. Followed by the samba-style "El Destino," it's when we get to "Otra Vez" that we realize Lafourcade and her producer had the conviction not to play safe and go out for a total pop album.
It's all here. Big fat bass riffs accompanied by freestyle scratching scorch their way into a hammond organ interlude rounded off with a drum'n'bass flourish and topped off with lyrics containing Mexico City slang. Testimony when you're young and reckless, things have a way of turning out for the better. Let's hope this street girl doesn't forget her roots in the future.