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  A female duo of British expatriates currently based in Philadelphia, Floetry fits somewhere in the hip-hop/soul continuum between Philly soul sister Jill Scott and Miseducation-era Lauryn Hill. Like Scott, they're earthy, jazzed-up bohemians, and like Hill they approach their performances as sermons, infusing their songs with one-world cosmic consciousness and spiritual gratitude.

A schizophrenic followup to the duo's acclaimed 2002 debut, Floetic, the new Floacism "Live" opens with three new studio tracks and abruptly shifts into concert mode with 11 tracks recorded at the House of Blues in New Orleans (plus a supplemental live DVD). In theory, it reeks of pointless market filler, considering that the live tracks basically regurgitate Floetic.


In practice, however, singer Marsha Ambrosius and "floacist" Natalie Stewart bring so much vibrancy to harmony-laden, gorgeous R&B gems like "Sunshine" and "Butterflies" (a song Ambrosius and Stewart wrote for Michael Jackson's 2001 CD Invincible) that all qualms quickly melt away. A particular highlight is "Opera," in which Ambrosius drops dazzling quotes from Carmen and puts them in a hip-hop context.

The three new tracks live up to this heady company, particularly the yearning soul lament, "Tell Me When." In a harder hip-hop vein, Floetry shares the mic with Mos Def on the propulsive opener "Wanna B Where U R (Thisizzaluvsong).

Still better known as songwriters than performers, Ambrosius and Stewart wisely address that imbalance here, and set the stage for their next set of new material. •

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Jul 1, 2020

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