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Nelly Furtado 

Saturday, December 15, at the Palace Theatre.

Nelly Furtado
  • Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado says she wants to be Jack Kerouac, Mona Lisa, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa all at the same time, which is unlikely. What is likely is that she'll be around for quite some time, thumbing her nose at the short shelf life of the teen icon, which Furtado is pitching herself as -- her website is full of images of her looking cool, playful, and sexy.

But Furtado is much more than a young hottie whose music comes largely as an afterthought. Whoa, Nelly!, her 2000 debut, has taken its sweet time to hit, but the disc finally blew up this summer, buoyed by the Top 10 smash "Turn Off the Light," which has spent 18 weeks on the charts.

And it's not hard to hear why. Furtado sings like a little girl, even though she's 22, crafts pop as contemporary as anything by Beck or Cibo Matto, and is way more sophisticated and provocative than the bimbos -- from Britney to Mandy to Jessica -- who make the charts so blond. Furtado's complexity surfaces in various ways on Whoa, Nelly!, particularly on the brilliantly verbose "I Will Make U Cry" and "Scared of You," a gorgeous, unexpectedly profound ballad. Packed with smart beats, cool samples, and lyrics wise beyond Furtado's years, Whoa, Nelly! is a sleeper with legs. The music is sunny, the lyrics often dark. Once you really listen to her, you realize she speaks to little girls and wise old men with equal accuracy.

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