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Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey

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Album Review

Only two months after Nicolay issued his collaborative City Lights, Vol. 3: Soweto, the producer and instrumentalist, along with singing, songwriting, and arranging partner Phonte, returned with the most varied Foreign Exchange album. It's also the one that most emphasizes the duo's extended family of collaborators. The cover of this, their fifth proper full-length, displays Carmen Rodgers and Tamisha Waden — two of their co-lead and background vocalists — as well as Lorenzo "Zo!" Ferguson. The FE nucleus and Zo! go way back and take it to another level here, with Zo! — similar to Nicolay, a studio wiz who typically works in isolation — a co-songwriter and co-producer of every song. Perhaps proximity and a history as performing partners partly explain why so much of this sounds like a party, as free and easy as the group's shows. FE previously went house with "So What If It Is," a deep and cleansing track, but when they return to the form here, it's with the humorous and rhythmically tougher early-'90s throwback "Asking for a Friend," where Phonte affects a distinguished Englishman accent akin to that of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Geoffrey Butler. On first listen, the song sounds merely like an amusing novelty until the stellar Waden-led chorus enters and takes it somewhere else. (No R&B group before them has maintained such a strong balance between female and male voices.) A different stunt is pulled with "Work It to the Top," bumping boogie that touches on 1979-1981 Slave — just a little bit — down to Phonte's spirited Steve Arrington mannerisms. Beyond those two songs and the pair of delighted Brazilian fusion-styled title tracks that begin and end the album, what remains largely refines the sweet and blissful grooves of Love in Flying Colors. That's not a bad thing, not when the writing is as sharp, with rich harmonies laced through rhythms that bound and wind with unforced finesse and warmth. Even with a disarming ballad on each side, Tales from the Land of Milk and Honey is one of the funnest R&B albums in some time.

Customer Reviews

Hmmm, I Don't Know

I sure do miss the days of Connected. I appreciate artistry and mixing it up but the Foreign Exhchange has totally scrapped any essence of true hip hop/R&B and went more towards the club type (sophisticated neo-soul type of club :-) of music feel. Phonte is a dope MC and his flow (and occasional singing) and Nicolay's beats were on point!!! Maybe they'll come back around and mix it up again. I can't say there is one song on this CD that stands out. It took me a good while to start to feel Love In Flying Colors and truthfully there are only about two songs on that CD that are ok. This album is OK but nothing to write home to mom about. And this review is coming from a person who has listened and been a fan of their music since the inception (Connected, circa 2004, Nicolay - City Lights, Here, Dutch Masters...). Mix it up again FE, the new style is getting a bit "blah"!!!

My FE Album Reviews:
Connected 10/10 (Classic)
Leave It All Behind (8/10)
Authenticity (8/10)
Dear Friends...(5/10)
Love In Flying Colors (5/10)
+FE Music: The Reworks (5/10)
Tales From The Land of Milk and Honey (5/10)

Never a disappointment!

I'm not surprised that's this album is fire. I'm a sucker for a dope beat and lyrics. Never a disappointment! Congrats!!

Hopefully Good

There 1st album Connected is a CLASSIC, previous albums were good,

Biography

Formed: 2002 in Raleigh, NC

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Representative of how the Internet can aid in creating music, the Foreign Exchange started when Little Brother rapper Phonte heard a beat on Okayplayer.com by Dutch producer Nicolay and asked if he could lay some vocals over it. Nicolay agreed, and the song "Light It Up" appeared shortly thereafter as the B-side to Little Brother's 2002 single "Whatever You Say." Relying mainly on instant messaging and email, the duo continued to work together, with Nicolay sending beats to Phonte, who would add...
Full Bio
Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey, The Foreign Exchange
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