28 October 2008

Review: The Foreign Exchange - Leave It All Behind

Like I've been mentioning for a couple of weeks now, The Foreign Exchange (Phonte and Nicolay) have released their second LP, Leave It All Behind [buy here]. Although same in tone, it is a departure from Connected in the fact that the majority of this album is R&B-ish, with very few raps (two to be exact).

They released the track "Daykeeper (feat. Musinah)" as a single and I've been addicted to it since. The official video was just released:

From the homie Hyphen:

"If you missed my interview with Tay a few weeks ago, we talked a lot about how part of the beauty of Leave It All Behind is that it’s so open to interpretation. I think the same can be said for this video. One thing’s for sure though, it’s wild how a song like this can really change your mood everytime you hear it.

Peep that interview with Phonte right here and be sure to stay up to date with everything FE on their site."

I love albums that tell stories. That, in my opinion, is a big part of music- creating an soundscape with a concept and telling something beautiful that one can relate to/with.* I prefer to call most "albums" that are all singles + filler "complations".

If you didn't see my original post about this track, I believe it to be a "morning after" ballad where two lovers lay in each others presence enjoying a moment together, wishing it'd stay forever, but know nothing golden can stay. The second song featuring Darien Brockington moves a little faster with a nice flowy guitar riff and Phontes amazing well-placed vocal arrangements. Story-wise looks as if the two are trying to get on that next level of a relationship, but it seems the lady is hesitant and the guy is trying to convince her to listen to her heart and take a chance before it's too late. It ends with one of many transitional beats throughout the album. (I like to think that it's a bunch of time passing.)

Track 3 starts with Tay ad-libbing his side of an argument. It looks like he and his lady are now together, but she's angry at him for something couples argue about and it looks like he's going to be sleeping on the couch. He and D-Brock reassure the miss that it's not that bad and we all have to go through some shit, "it's part of the game". The notorious beat change comes and he wants to let her know that he comes home to her.

Our guy questions the lady if she'll put her trust in him and give him her all. To share both good and bad, because he appreciates her. One of my favorite tracks, "House of Cards" seems like a warning to the listeners: "I've seen the sorrow you were meant for/ Your house of cards is gonna fall," Looks like the dude is scared of something. He's "practiced every word, rehearsed every line", but is still doubtful about the situation. We're all familiar- lying, or even worse, not speaking up in relationships ruin them.

Our nararator ponders his admiration for his lover. It's aptly titled and he questions what could be "Sweeter Than You"? Love is a losing game and although he's been at this point before he still choses to put his feeling on the table. "This is a game we play to lose and still I chose you". Cue another time-passing interlude beat.

The valedition plays. Even after all of the trust the guy put out there, it looks like it wasn't going to work out. "She loves me" is chanted throughout the latter half of the song. Why? Is he trying to reassure himself even though it's not working? Or does he know that regardless of it not working now, she definitely still loves him and maybe, after time, they'll later be together happily ever after? The beat plays out in reverse and fades.

Only after losing something do we realize how important something was to us. "Out of touch, wasiting time, my heart... If this is love" is sung over a very 2-step garage beat. Both the lady and the guy think and wonder through a fluttery soundscape. It's bubbly and the two may be dreaming of trying to get to each other. You might recognize the next one as a slower cover of the Kimberly Brewer jam off of Stevie Wonder's Jungle Fever album. Our lady then sings that her "love is gone with yesterday", but wants the man to know that she still cares (loves?) him, and will keep him in her heart. "Laughing, loving, sharing, caring/ seemed to be made just for us two/ But I kept building this dream world/That I thought was you and I" Seems she has made up her mind. Phonte goes off into a jazz freestyle as Nicolay puts the time signature into double-time. Time passes by again...

It looks like they are back together and the troubles they went through developed their relationship into something strong. They've been guided together again, their paths joined as one. Phonte starts the track laughing and Musinah goes into how it feels so new and so fresh and so exciting. D-Brock sums the song up with his verse:

I like the place you take me
A place of love and safety
Your love's all I wanna know
Darling you're such a blessing
A love refreshing
You're the one I've waited for

Phonte ends the track with a dope rhyme and Musinah sings some ad-libs that, when mixed with the music, give this song a very "hopeful" feel. There's another interlude instrumental, meaning more time has passed. The man now sings a song to their child. We romance the idea that life is supposed to be nice and easy and fun, but it's obviously not. We deal with hardships and things that dissapoint us, but make us stronger and provide us things to learn from. A quote I've posted before brings it all around for me:

"The iron ore feels its self needlessly tortured as it goes through the furnace. The tempered blade looks back and knows better."

We learn from experience. We learn a lot more quickly when we're burned in the process. The dude and the lady went through hard times, but returned to their feet over time and stronger than ever. We don't all get there, but it's goal we can and should shoot for.

Nicolay pulls off some great stuff on the album. The entire album can be considered R&B, but listening to it leads you to hear some downbeat, jazz, hip hop, electronic, UK garage, and soul. Leave It All Behind hit #6 R&B record on iTunes and #1 record on Amazon the first week it was released. There was a crazy reception to the album. Phonte said on the Gordon Gartrell Radio podcast [Episode 10]: "Damn, like all these years of rapping and an R&B album be my #1 shit."

This album is attached to me emotionally already. Not only is the music beautiful, but the lyrics are wonderful. Tay is defintely a talented music with his vocal arrangements throughout the album. I RECOMMEND YOU BUY THIS NOW and get a physical copy. You'll get that instrumental disc and the linear notes.

Ok, I realize that this was little review, more interpretation, but dammit- this is my blog.

* Another reason I love music is because it usually speaks to me and my soul. The events that I interpret happening on this album ring eerily true to situations I've been going though recently as well. This is art imitating life at it's finest. Not to mention I love the actual music and it puts me in the perfect somber mood.

1 comment:

  1. I can admit, I'm a little into it. Lately, I find myself listening more to the lyrics then just the beats. Maybe you should send me a copy!!! :)

    How's life going for you mane? I know you were getting into a whole lot of business ventures. I've stopped pretty much everything. About that time to really find out what I want in life, I guess. Hopefully I'll see you DECEMBER, that is if I can still go, but as of now, I'm still planning for my 2 weeks in the snow!