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in: Reviews

Prefix reviews Leave It All Behind

by +FE on October 30, 2008 at 1:10 PM · Comments

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in: Reviews

Okayplayer reviews Leave It All Behind

by +FE on October 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM · Comments
Chemistry is an elusive phenomenon. It's what ignites white hot romantic sparks between two otherwise nondescript individuals. It's also what marks certain rarified creative collaborations as truly magical. In both cases, chemistry elevates the whole above the sum of the parts. Fittingly enough, it is chemistry that propels the sophomore release from The Foreign Exchange, both conceptually and sonically, culminating in one of the more rewarding listening experiences of the year.

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.

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in: Media » Video

The Foreign Exchange feat. Muhsinah - "Daykeeper" Official music video

by +FE on October 23, 2008 at 1:34 PM · Comments
The Foreign Exchange feat. Muhsinah - "Daykeeper" Official music video

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in: Reviews

allmusic reviews Leave It All Behind

by +FE on October 14, 2008 at 1:21 PM · Comments
The second Foreign Exchange album reverses the rapping/singing split of the first. Not only is Leave It All Behind much more an R&B album than 2004's Connected -- it's more an R&B album than a lot of modern releases filed in that section, given that Phonte slips into MC mode only twice while otherwise putting his sensitive singing voice to full use. Even more nuanced and textured, and therefore more musical than Connected, Leave It All Behind is a concise and complete set of songs that brings out the best of both producer Nicolay and Phonte. More than ever, Nicolay's mellow but moving productions have that lingering, memory-triggering effect mastered by the late J Dilla, and a multitude of shades is cast: dreamy folk-soul that ranks with the Beauty Room and latter-day 4hero, lean and contemporary constructions that would fit within any adult-oriented R&B station's playlist, deceptively frictional backdrops that bridge hip-hop to West London broken beat, and even the intermittent unclassifiable moment, with several styles thrown into swirls of crescendo-enhanced dramatics. Joined by Connected accomplices Darien Brockington and YahZarah (her lead turn on "If She Breaks Your Heart" sounds even more like a lost Stevie/Minnie collaboration than the Jungle Fever soundtrack original), as well as Muhsinah (an earthbound Georgia Anne Muldrow), Phonte does not deliver knockouts, yet he is not out of his depth and never reaches beyond his grasp, exuding warmth and sincerity as effectively as anyone praised for inhuman range. Even when his lyrics deal in the less complicated aspects of relationships, his voice provides a gently bittersweet tint, as a man with his guard down whose articulations are neither reactionary nor based on some false posture. And with love as its core rather than impulsive lust, as well as its unified feel, the album is not just a unique and exceptional R&B album but also a soundtrack or means of communication -- when heat-of-the-moment resentment, a lump in the throat, or anxious longing get in the way -- for a real-life adult relationship.
in: Media » Wallpapers

Leave It All Behind wallpapers

by +FE on October 14, 2008 at 9:26 AM · Comments
Leave It All Behind wallpapers
Enhance your desktop with one of the four beautiful wallpaper designs by Tobias Rose of Kompleks Creative!

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in: Media » Lyrics

The Foreign Exchange - Daykeeper

by +FE on October 10, 2008 at 8:19 AM · Comments
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

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in: Releases

The Foreign Exchange - Leave It All Behind

by +FE on October 7, 2008 at 7:13 PM · Comments
The Foreign Exchange - Leave It All Behind
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.
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