If Foreign Exchange keeps on making music like this, they may become one of the biggest and influential groups of the 10’s. If you don’t think so, you haven’t heard Tales From The Land Of Milk And Honey (Foreign Exchange Music). If you’ve heard what these guys are capable of doing, you are going to love what they do here. The group remains within the core of Phonte Coleman and Nicolay but they are open to bringing in musical and vocal guests, some of the singers involved in this include Shana Tucker, Tamisha Waden, Carlitta Durand, and Carmen Rodgers. It sounds like a family, it sounds like a group, it sounds like a mission. It sounds like an organization that has traveled around the world to bring their music and good vibes to everyone willing to listen, leading to everyone celebrate and that’s what these songs are: a celebration.
Upon beginning the album with “Milk And Honey”, you immediately get a sense they not only want you to come to their show, but they are willing to become part of your adventures, whatever and wherever it is. The Brazilian feel of the song mixed with more modern dance substances reminds me of Bossa Rio meets Jazzanova. “Disappear” may remind a few listeners of British soul music but some may also hear a slight Afrobeat rhythm to it, as if Fela Kuti decided to intermingle with outsiders for a few hours and wanted to just let the music groove up on itself. The ballads definitely do not take a toll and they nicely blend easily with the album that has its share of groovers and uptempo dance tracks too. “Work It To The Top” takes things to the late 70’s/early 80’s, as if Off The Wall or Luther Vandross’ first debut solo album was still on the radio and completely changed the world. The drum machine mechanics of “Truce” immediately sets a feeling, perhaps one of romance, maybe one of seduction, but very much one of intense listening through what everyone is doing and creating within the tune.
To be honest, this… I made a reference to “outsiders” when I mentioned Fela Kuti earlier in the review and the music of the Foreign Exchange is special made for outsiders, made by musicians and singers who want to open it to everyone by bringing you inside, no exclusivity. When I say outsiders, I mean that this is an album that would be very fitting for a lot of people in the United States but they may be turned off by something they’re not feeling as “their vibe”. Take this to Europe, take this to South American, take this to Japan and people will get it. It’s more than just the singing and the poetic licenses made by the lyrics, it’s very much a feeling that a lot of musicians either forgot or choose to ignore. Nicolay and Phonte make it a part of their plan and by creating song after song, they’re letting people know that there are stories to be told, and entering Tales From The Land Of Milk And Honey is exploring a few new chapters of their library. There is a beginning, middle, and once again and open ending, another “to be continued” as the album comes to a close, insuring fans will come back wanting much more, whatever it may be.