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The Foreign Exchange - Leave It All Behind

by +FE on October 7, 2008 at 7:13 PM · Comments
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.

Tracklisting
01. Daykeeper feat. Muhsinah
02. Take Off The Blues feat. Darien Brockington
03. All Or Nothing/Coming Home To You feat. Darien Brockington
04. I Wanna Know
05. House Of Cards feat. Muhsinah
06. Sweeter Than You
07. Valediction
08. If She Breaks Your Heart feat. YahZarah
09. If This Is Love feat. YahZarah
10. Something To Behold feat. Muhsinah & Darien Brockington
11. Leave It All Behind
Music Videos
Reviews
''The Foreign Exchange may have just earned an unexpected promotion.'' - Ian Cohen for Pitchfork [Click here to read the full review]
''Leave It All Behind can't be recommended highly enough and deserves to be considered one of the year's best releases, regardless of genre.'' - Ron Schepper for Textura [Click here to read the full review]
''It's rare that an emcee is so capable as a songwriter and it's equally as rare, today especially, that a duo with an excellent debut can follow that album up with something completely new and fantastic.'' - Andrew Martin for PopMatters [Click here to read the full review]
''With electronic and live sounds, emotional production and excellent vocals from some of the underground scene’s best, Leave It All Behind is an open and experimental take on hip-hop and soul, highly successful, at that.'' - Norman Mayers for Prefix Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''Once the album’s final note has faded out, you’ll want to listen again, because in the presence of such impeccable chemistry, it’s hard to Leave It All Behind.'' - Jeff Harvey for Okayplayer [Click here to read the full review]
''Leave It All Behind is a concise and complete set of songs that brings out the best of both producer Nicolay and Phonte.'' - Andy Kellman for allmusic [Click here to read the full review]
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