Continue reading Prefix reviews Leave It All Behind
Leave It All Behind is the rare concept album that doesn't feel forced. Like the relationship that is chronicled throughout, the album ebbs and flows in the key of life. "Daykeeper" is an understated opener, a quiet celebration of mutual love and dependancy driven by atmospheric keys and ethereal background vocals. As Phonte and Muhsinah trade plaintive vocals of laying together, watching over one another, the song takes on an almost voyeuristic quality, like we shouldn't be sharing such an intimate moment with the two lovers. The song sets the tone perfectly, establishing not only the chemistry between lyrics, vocals and production, but also within the romantic narrative that drives the album. The perfect counterpoint to "Day Keeper" is "House of Cards". Over a drum and bass groove and urgent keys, 'Te and Muhsinah again trade mirroring verses, but this time the words are filled with distrust and deception. It is precisely such nuances in which the beauty of LIAB lies. This isn't an album about falling in love, nor it's demise. It's about all of the ups and downs and detours along the way. The fickle way of the romantic pendulum is best exemplified at the project's mid point, when he jazzy jubilance of "Sweeter Than You" transitions into the remorseful melancholy of "Valediction" so seamlessly that before the listener even realizes the former has given way to the latter, sweet has apparently gone sour.
Continue reading Okayplayer reviews Leave It All Behind
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I can't sleep at night
Cause they won't see me
Running from the daylight
To where she keeps me
And when the sun rises, she watches over me
Waiting for the daylight
Cause then she'll keep me
In the safety of her arms
She never leaves me
Continue reading The Foreign Exchange - Daykeeper
Four years after the release of their critically acclaimed debut Connected, The Foreign Exchange returns with their sophomore set, Leave It All Behind.
Consisting of singer/songwriter Phonte and producer Nicolay, The Foreign Exchange came together via the online hip-hop community Okayplayer.com in 2002. After trading files through Instant Messenger for over a year, Nicolay (living in his native Holland at the time) and Phonte (a Raleigh, NC resident) completed their debut album before they ever met each other in person. The album, Connected, was released in 2004 to positive reviews, and was praised by legendary DJ's such as Jazzy Jeff, King Britt, and DJ Spinna for its inventive mix of hip-hop, R&B, and electronica.
Leave It All Behind finds The Foreign Exchange much closer in geography (Nicolay has since become a resident of Wilmington, NC), but located much further from their hip-hop origins. The duo's second full-length is a dark, multi-layered affair that features Phonte showcasing his abilities as an exceptional lead and harmony vocalist, while Nicolay extends his musical palette to include sprinklings of jazz, downtempo, and house. The lush, Darien Brockington-assisted "Take Off the Blues" picks up where Connected's sleeper hit "Come Around" left off, while the complex polyrhythms and dreamy synthesizers of "Sweeter Than You" are described by Phonte as "swing jazz for the next century." Marc Mac (of legendary UK production team 4hero), also contributes a string arrangement to the duo's glorious cover of Stevie Wonder's oft-forgotten 1991 gem, "If She Breaks Your Heart."
In addition to appearances from longtime FE affiliates Darien Brockington and YahZarah, the album also features guest shots from producer/keyboardist Zo! and vocalist Muhsinah.