The Foreign Exchange’s New Album Is Something That Will Never Be Left ‘Behind’

It has been four years since The Foreign Exchange's Phonte and Nicolay offered us their vision of what "soul hop" could be with Connected. While not as many may have been clamoring for their return as say Maxwell, Lauryn or D'Angelo, their new album is proof that we should have been. Leave It All Behind is at its worst a beautiful moment in the great expanse of your life.

Relying much more on Phonte's vocals and less guest appearances by emcees, Leave It All Behind is an album that flows, never ebbs, as each track passes by. Like the petals of a rose, each song is individual and distinct, delicate and balanced. And while the tracks are worthy on their own, they unfold onto each other in a way that is most appreciated when heard as a whole.

Leave It All Behind is the type of album that can be played anywhere and at any time. I would, however, recommend playing it when you want to bring the mood down a bit, say driving a long distance, calming a cranky child, doing household chores or after a lengthy argument. Its subject matter is unsurprisingly about love as most songs have been and will be. The distinct difference between this album as it relates to most other R&B albums out there on the market is the lack of Auto-Tune, the lack of verbal groping, the lack of unsolicited forays into waxing poetic about every part of a woman's anatomy in gruesome detail. What the listener is left with is the musings of a man who is grown, with responsibilities both to himself and his beloved, who has obviously been dabbling in '80s pop, '90s R&B, soft rock, jazz and a little emo for good measure. Guest appearances include Darien Brockington who was also featured on Connected and, more recently, Zo! & Tigallo Love The 80s, but most of the album features Phonte's smooth vocal stylings. While Yahzarah makes a return appearance on this album, it's the pairing of Muhsinah and Phonte's voices that in hindsight is as effortlessly stunning as Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack.

Out of the eleven songs on this album, the one that continues to stand out for me is "Daykeeper," which is to date my most favorite song that I've heard this year. Having no idea what the lyrics actually amount to, I finally settled on it being a love song that expresses the love a mortal man has for a Sun Goddess. Much like some Roman and Greek deities would fall in love with mortals. Once I heard the sequel to "Daykeeper," "Valediction," I realized that somehow the Goddess assumed mortal form and got kicked to the curb by her mortal flame. As cold-blooded as it is to hear, "This place is no longer yours ...Our love is such a rush / But inside it's slowly killing me ... Nothing's been more true / Than these words to you," only a person who has lived and lost could pen those words.

There are several moments of emotional identification that most listeners will encounter, most of them warm and fuzzy, while some of them are sad. The best way I can describe my initial impressions of this album is that I will likely listen to this album until my ears bleed from it being overplayed. And then I will listen to it again. And again. And again. Here's to hoping that your ears will be bleeding as well.

Leave It All Behind [Amazon][iTunes]

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19 Responses

  1. Great review! Album of the year?

  2. man this album stayed on repeat the entire time i was in the gym yesterday and will probably happen today also

  3. Funny, listening to it now. *swoon* It's a BEAUTIFUL thing. I must say that Musinah and Yazarah are the perfect additions here. I can't pick a favorite track just yet because honestly I love them all.
    You're a mean Mami for just posting snippets though 🙂
    It's definitely going in my personal Top 10 of the Year - Top 3 I'm sure.

  4. i completely agree with you about valediction. that has got to be the most beautiful truth of life i have ever heard. the genuineness is so apparent.

  5. A strong candidate for Album of the Year honors -- for me. But I'm waiting for Kanye West's "808" album before I make the call.
    I apologize for my lazy critical analysis, but Foreign Exchange's "Leave it All Behind" is the shit. A beautiful album through and through. Major props to all.
    I pray that this release came out just in time for Grammy considerations. This album needs to be acknowledged for its musical greatness.

  6. Agreed. Connected was one of my favorite albums of 2004, and Leave It All Behind fits in perfectly this year. Nuff said.

  7. I've been listening to this album non-stop since yesterday. I am entirely grateful for it. I respond to music in a very physical and emotional way and this has me full of...everything. Mainly pride and faith. This is w/out a doubt one the best albums I've heard this year.

  8. Major thanks to Vivrant Thang over at SITKOL for bringing FE back on to my musical radar!
    I have 'Connected' and played it till the CD wore out. My fav track was Sincere so great to see Yahzarah is back (and she sounds great).
    This album is definitely up there in my top purchases this year, tied 1st place with Eric Lau's New Territories and Tawiah's In Jodi's Bedroom. Every song is a classic, but the standouts?? I must say it is the 3 tracks feat Musinah (especially Daykeeper).
    A true MUST HAVE ALBUM OF '08

  9. I cannot get enough of this album!!! Valediction is one of those songs that makes you feel THANGS..LOL

  10. It's stayed in rotation since I've gotten it! Right now, I gotta say my favorite cut is Take Off The Blues ft. Darien Brockington.

    The whole vibe of this album is so fresh!! I was expecting at least a few rhymes here and there considering what Connected was like but hey... I'm def happy with it AS-IS!!!

  12. The vibe is so ridiculous. This album puts me in the best frame of mind, I just can't turn it off. Woke up to Daykeeper this morning, got dressed, kept it goin on for my commute to work and my iPod has still been going all day!

  13. Is it just me, or does Phonte sometimes sound a bit like Martin Luther!?
    Beautiful voice either way

  14. I sooo didnt know that they came out with a new album. I went straight to itunes...I think this is my favorite new website :)!

  15. This is exactly what I needed gotta get this album website HOT

  16. This album is addictive..I had to convince myself not to play it this morning. Yesterday during my First ever yoga class in my life, I couldn't get Daykeeper out of my's straight viral !

  17. I can't stop playing the album since I got it. Everybody I've talked to that has heard it says the same thing - Album of the Year. I'm so impressed with the music, the vocals, the vibe. Valediction is my favorite but I have to say there isn't one song on the album that I don't love.

  18. "i wanted to play Xbox on the big tv ANYWAY . . ."
    crazy album. i think Phonte has officially emerged as our newest renaissance man.

  19. This is the Album of the Year. Straight up.