Friday, October 29, 2010

CD Review: The Foreign Exchange's Authenticity

Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 4:50 PM

click to enlarge Authenticity

The Deal: Grammy-nominated duo with North Carolina lead singer releases their third studio album.

The Good: Soulful without fitting in a nice, little, soulful box. I mean it's really, really mellow. Nicolay continues to produce tracks right in Phonte Coleman's vocal wheelhouse, not giving the rapper turned singer anything he would necessarily have to stretch for. The production also had a dope familiarity. Tracks put you instantly in the mind of pop and R&B tracks from the '80s even with the electronic touches of Nicolay's European influence.

What jumps out at you lyrically on Authenticity is it's authenticity. The honesty in Phonte's lyrics is a refreshing refrain from the over-sexualized, die-for-you message that's dominating the genre. Truly genuine confessions of love, trying too hard, not knowing what to do and starting over play smoothly alongside danceable uptempo soul records (two-step ready for the oldheads) that Urban AC radio would have it field day with had it even crossed their radar.

Scaled down but solid guest appearances by frequent collaborators Darien Brockington ("Don't Wait"), Jessee Boykin III & Median ("Make Me A Fool" and YahZarah ("The City Ain't The Same Without You"). I found myself often wondering what an already established R&B singer could have done a similar record had they explored the sound. "Laughing At Your Plans" put me in the mind of something Luther Vandross would have made a classic were he still alive, but this version is cool.

The Bad: Redundant at times. A lot of songs have a similar vibe, either intentionally to further the theme of the record or unintentionally as producer's block. Even a good groove suffers from sounding downright the same at certain points.

The Verdict: Longtime fans of The Foreign Exchange notice the growth and applaud the continuation of the second album's sound, while new listeners get a great example of what the Grammy voters noticed before. Expecting another unexpected record from them? This isn't it, but it's damn good and still the best kept secret in soul music.


The Foreign Exchange Music; Release date: Oct. 12, 2010

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