Jarvis Church, the artist formerly known as Gerald Eaton (half of Track & Field, the Grammy-nominated production duo behind Nelly Furtado’s breakout Whoa, Nelly!) is, according to Furtado, a Jamaican “Marvin Gaye from Mars.” Much like Furtado’s debut, Church’s Shake It Off features an assortment of sonic flavors—from hip-hop and R&B to pop and rock—woven together in a bristly collage of trip-hop and reggae rhythms. Furtado guests as a psychotic stripper on the narrative “Fine Line,” while fellow Toronto native and Furtado sound-a-like Esthero assumes the role of an obsessive fan on the kitschy, brass-infused “Run for Your Life.” The album is a bit over-produced (the quirky hip-hop track “Forgive Me” is like the Neptunes on Pop Rocks) and breaks little ground, but Church puts a twist on even conventional pop and R&B (“That Old Love Song” mixes classic-sounding guitars solos with subtle turntable scratches and organ flourishes; the tropical “She’s in Love with You” hits your skin like an electronic puff of air). Though catchy, the album’s title track isn’t the most ideal lead single; Church, who comes off like a second-rate Prince—or, even worse, a second-rate Maxwell—makes much better use of his falsetto and retro sensibility on songs like the funky “Who Will Be Your Man.” But aside from a couple of borderline tacky lyrics (he sings “Spin me ‘round like a DVD” on “So Amazing,” the most mundane of the album’s 13 tracks), Shake It Off provides enough evidence for Furtado’s gushing claim: Church wears his influences on his sleeve but it’s not clear what planet he’s actually from.
- Release Date
- July 24, 2002
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