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Floetry - Flo' Ology
A graceful and consistently cool set of songs grace the South London's girls third album.
A graceful and consistently cool set of songs grace the South London's girls third album. Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart met at school and remained friends ever since. When they left the UK for the US they had no idea about what lay ahead for them; in 2005, the pair have became one of the most sought after writing duos around; penning for the likes of Michael Jackson ("Butterflies"), Jill Scott, Glenn Lewis, Bilal and most recently, the chorus for the Styles P hit "I'm Black." Marsha is also credited as the backing vocalist on Justin Timberlake's hit "Cry Me a River" and is featured on The Game's "Start from Scratch." Floetry have always struggled to get the recognition as artists back in the UK and they now, more than ever deserve some sort of accolade from their own turf. Flo'Ology should help them along the way.

Their debut album "Floetic" sold 700,000 copies in the US and earned Floetry six Grammy nominations. "Floacism" a live album followed as the girls continued to perform around three shows every week clocking up 160 shows a year. Floetry bring their poetry roots, precise and memorable songwriting skills, sparse arrangements and jazz-tinged beats together in a fusion that hints of the likes of The Roots, Goapele, Jill Scott perhaps Erykah Badu and, less so, but enough of a nod to a Digable Planets' vibe. That is not to say that Floetry do not have their own identity. Even being swathed in the crème de la crème of American musicians, producers and writers there is still a difference with the vocal delivery and of course the accents.

There are some great vocals and spoken word, and when these two merge the Floetry picture becomes apparent. Opening the album Floetry take no prisoners - its straight into a hard-edged rap on "Blessed 2 Have", but with lush harmonies and a strong hooky feel underpinning the work. "SupaStar" is layered vocals tipping its hat to the Mary Jane girls with super smooth and effortless rhythmical patter from main man Common. Track 2 and you already feel that you are in the groove. "Closer" again shows the trademark drenched vocal, swimming against fat bass and repetitive rhythms. "My Apology" kicks off with the spoken word and drops into the best bits of Mary J Blige. It's the answering phrases from sung words to spoken words. Its just sounds sexy!

"Let Me in" is superb. Dreamy vocals, a great groove with a slow jagged shuffle feel. It's all hot in Floetry territory. They are telling its how it is. It's a throwback to the blues and jazz greats but brought bang up to date. "Lay Down", however, is perhaps just too laid back but still remains erotically charged. I guess that's the plan. It's a big ballad with gently sweeping strings that swell sexily behind spoken word and full harmonies.

Later in the set, "I'll Die" picks up the tempo but still hangs cool with trademark massed harmonies, spoken voice, hooky guitar riffs. Stand out spoken words and accompanying vocals. This is where Floetry really comes alive. "Imagination" is really, really slow. Its one of those 'sexy' tracks in dispersed throughout "Flo'Ology" They are there for a reason. "I want U" is basically about well.. wanting U. Nothing special and in fact not particularly memorable.

Floetry are never short of strong melodies. Why else would they be sought after as songwriters? But their vocal abilities, the mix of Natalie's spoken, rapped words and Marsha's sublime voice, cool grooves and the sparseness welcomes Floetry into the fold.

written by on 11/30/2005 12:00:00 AM

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