Nelly Furtado, "Mi Plan"
There is nothing contrived about Nelly Furtado's Spanish-language debut, "Mi Plan." With simple, straightforward songs that appeal to melodic sensibilities rather than rhythmic contraptions, the set is a mix of vulnerability and earnestness. On the album, Furtado teams up with several Latin artists, including Alejandro Fernández, Juan Luis Guerra, Julieta Venegas, La Mala Rodríguez and Concha Buika, and classical crossover singer Josh Groban. The uptempo first single, "Manos Al Aire," lends itself to dance clubs, but it doesn't set the tone for the album, which balances intimacy with commercial appeal. Even when Furtado dwells on the obvious-like the cumbia beat of "Vacación" or the banal improvisation of "Bajo Otra Luz"-she does it with an appealing freshness that defies the formulaic. Standouts include "Como Lluvia" (featuring Guerra), with a chorus that switches from major to minor for a haunting feel. But the biggest departure is "Silencio" (featuring Groban), with Furtado adapting to his dramatic, classical sound while still retaining her earthy vocals and organic cadence. -Leila Cobo