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Album Review: The Floacist - 'Floetry Re:Birth'

Born Again?

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

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Album Review: The Floacist - 'Floetry Re:Birth'
It's been seven years since the English R&B group known as Floetry released their third and final album, and more than five years since the duo broke up and went their separate ways. And although one half of the former duo, singer Marsha Ambrosius, (aka The Songstress) has chosen to move on and apparently put the past behind her, the other half, poet and singer Natalie Stewart (aka The Floacist) has other plans. As evidenced by her second solo album, Floetry Re:Birth, The Floacist has no intention of letting the Floetry name fade away. Re:Birth, which was released in the U.S. Nov. 13, 2012, mourns the past -- sometimes bitterly -- but also paves the way for a potentially bright future.

Beautifully Hopeful

Many times when a relationship falls apart, it can be somewhat more difficult for one half of that partnership than the other half to deal with the break-up and move on. And that seems to somewhat be the case here with Floetry Re:Birth. The nods to the Floacist's old group are numerous here, obviously starting with the title, but also extending to the tone and content of some of the songs. Other than the title, one of the more obvious references to the Floacist's past come in the form of a beautifully hopeful song called "Start Again." The song, which features crooner Raheem DeVaughn doing what sounds like his best Marvin Gaye impersonation, is about moving on after things fall about. "After the rain, the sun will shine, after the darkness there comes a bright sky," She sings. "Start again, pick up the pieces, Here within you'll find the peace to start again, rebirth reborn, moving on, evolution."
And for much of Re:Birth, the Floacist does exactly that, paying tribute to her old group while still pushing things forward musically. Many of the 11 songs here pay homage to Floetry's music style while also employing modern production that's more modern that what the duo relied on during their early 2000s neo-Soul heyday. That said, the Floacist does take a dip into the past via a remake of one of Floetry's best songs, "Say Yes." Unfortunately, the 10-year anniversary version is somewhat lacking without Marsha's deeply soulful vocals in the mix.

Successful Solo

The one song where Natalie most directly addresses Floetry's break-up is a provocative track called "Soul." In the years since Marsha left Floetry for a solo career, she's occasionally spoken publicly about the details of the split. But until now, Natalie had remained mum on the subject. She lets loose on this song, however, detailing her feelings and giving her perspective on Marsha chasing mainstream success in the US: "Never saw myself rollin' with you friend, Now you wanna go out on your own," she sings. "Well, where you wanna be, it's not for me, you'll have to go alone ... I just can't sell my soul there's no price on my soul." Harsh words yes, but the lyrics aren't delivered in a bitter or hateful manner; in fact, the Floacist's spoken-word style comes across very smooth, albeit with a touch of wistfulness.
But despite the harsh feelings between Natalie and Marsha, the truth of the matter is, both ladies could eventually achieve far more success individually than they ever did as a duo. While Floetry may have had a devoted following on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the group never had a top 50 hit song or album in their native UK and just one top 10 single ("Say Yes") in the US. But not only has Marsha now established herself as a successful solo artist through her 2011 solo debut album, Late Nights & Early Mornings, Natalie also has the potential to creatively eclipse anything she ever crafted while part of her former duo, and this album clearly shows that.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Shanachie Ent. Corp. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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