Foreign Exchange Love in Flying Colors

Foreign ExchangeLove in Flying Colors
Not to rehash old stuff, but your thoughts on Love in Flying Colors will likely be based on when you first became aware of R&B/hip-hop duo of "rapper-turnt-singer"/artist Phonte Coleman and "North Carolina by way of the Netherlands" producer/instrumentalist Nicolay. Their solid 2004 debut, Connected, is still largely slotted into the "alternative hip-hop" category, while follow-ups Leave It All Behind and Authenticity arguably lean heavily on the R&B side of the equation. This has created a dedicated yet outspoken fanbase with collective thoughts on, and expectations of, how the perfect Foreign Exchange album should sound. Ultimately, Foreign Exchange are about creating their music their way — Love in Flying Colors continues along this wavelength. Smoothly romantic lead single "Call It Home" sounds like a long-lost Connected track updated for 2013. Standout numbers like "When I Feel Love," featuring Jeanne Jolly, "Right After Midnight," featuring Sy Smith, and "If I Knew Then," featuring Carmen Rodgers, highlight the group's progressive soul sound while bringing FE+Music lablemates and friends along for the ride. "The Moment" is a cool, but ordinary dance-type number; however, "Listen to the Rain" is, in a word, beautiful, and the best illustration of Phonte's heightened vocal mastery to date. Love in Flying Colors is a solid and consistent album — the "turnt" label assigned to Phonte (ex of North Carolina hip-hop crew Little Brother) is a bit unfair, as he's grown impressively as a vocalist and this is his coming out party, in terms of how he's developed and crafted a remarkably smooth singing style. Layered overtop of Nicolay's ever-evolving yet signature "electro-soul" sound, Love in Flying Colors is steeped in an honest, vulnerable lyricism bolstered by dreamy, feel-good synth vibes regarding the complex emotion called love and all it represents. (Independent)