The first couple of songs the public got to hear from Nelly Furtado’s fourth English album, The Spirit Indestructible, are party tracks “Big Hoops (The Bigger The Better)” and current single, “Parking Lot,” but it’s a deeper album than that.
The title, named after one of her songs, is a strong statement, two words — “spirit,” “indestructible” — that even by themselves mean a lot, but what do they mean to Furtado?
“It means a bunch of things. I’m glad you asked me because I started playing that song live and the feeling I get when I sing it live is really really really strong,” she says, emphatically.
“I feel really empowered when I sing it. I already have a song called ‘Powerless’ (on 2003’s Folklore) that I feel pretty good singing, but this one is different. It’s almost like — I don’t know – it’s almost like some sort of proclamation. I really want fans and other people to feel it and feel empowered by it and feel the way I do when I sing it. That’s really why I do music.”
[quote]I think that’s rejuvinating when you can go back to that quiet place and shut off the computer, shut off your phone, and zone in why you make music and just feel alive a bit.[/quote]
The Canadian singer — who has sold more than 16 million albums, according to her record label, Interscope, since debuting in 2000 with Whoa, Nelly! and following it up with 2003’s Folklore, 2006’s Loose, and 2009’s Spanish-language Mi Plan — has different priorities now. The mother and wife has become heavily involved with Canadian activists Craig and Marc Kielburger’s charity Free The Children, which has made a profound impact on her.
The phrase “the spirit indestructible” was actually taken from a story in the Kielburger’s book, Me To We: Finding Meaning In A Material World, written by New Jersey-based artist Tim Lefens who found a way to teach severely disabled people how to paint by using a laser pointer. He was later diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, impairing his vision — but he can still paint.
“Basically, in this short story, he said, ‘I realized that the body is the spirit indestructible,’” Furtado paraphrases. “The words just hit me so clearly and I went, ‘Oh, wow, that’s a great album title.’ I just thought maybe my next album would be called The Spirit Indestructible. (Until then) I thought I’d name my album Lifestyle.”
‘Lifestyle’ would’ve worked too. In addition to the title-track inspired by the resilient people she has met with Free The Children or read about, the song “Big Hoops” draws on her fun teenage years in the nineties out on the town (big hoops earrings on) and “Bucket List” by a friend’s recent question about if she had a bucket list of her own.
She didn’t, officially, but when she started reflecting on her life, one of the immediate things she wanted to do was travel that didn’t involve a stage or interviews or anything concerning work.
“This was the first break I had taken in 10 years and that really helped me start thinking about my own life and thinking about, ‘Hmm, what hobbies I could enjoy doing?’ and slow down and do some leisurely traveling,” says Furtado.
“I did a really awesome trip across the southern states of America last summer. I went camping and saw all the national parks. So that’s a big part of the album too — this idea of resting and rejuvenating and coming back with new inspiration.
“I think that’s rejuvinating when you can go back to that quiet place and shut off the computer, shut off your phone, and zone in why you make music and just feel alive a bit. So the songs can feel alive, right? Because if you don’t feel alive, then the songs don’t feel alive either.”