Audio Mixer: Dave Darlington.
Recording information: Free Sum Music Studios, UK.
Photographer: Duncan Telford.
The Floacist, Natalie Stewart, opens "Step Out" by declaring, "New dawn, new day -- perfect moment to embrace change." A few aspects of her second solo album don't mirror this mentality. The back cover of this album, titled Floetry Re:Birth, proclaims, "Celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Floetry!" Floetry ended in 2007, when Marsha Ambrosius left to pursue a solo career. Stewart, not so quick to embrace change, addresses the split on "Soul" and takes shots at her ex-partner with "Where you wanna be, it's not for me" and "I just can't sell my soul." The Floacist's husband, Nolan Weekes, makes it a double team as he pointedly asks, "Are you gonna do anything for anything, or are you gonna make real music for real-music lovers?" You'd think Ambrosius bailed to make dance-pop records or compete with Ciara; a number one R&B album (Late Nights & Early Mornings) and two R&B Grammy nominations prove otherwise. Even with the late post-breakup material and attachment to the past -- this might be a good spot to mention that there is a "10 Year Anniversary Edition" re-recording of Floetry's Top Ten R&B single "Say Yes" -- Floetry Re:Birth trumps Stewart's previous album, Floetic Soul. The songs are sturdier, the grooves are more memorable, and there's less personal-growth fluff. As a singer, Stewart is more confident and capable. "Children of the Sun" recalls the uplifting chamber soul of 4hero's 2000s albums. "This Love" works a liquid, almost Sade-like soul-reggae backing for one of Stewart's breezier, most seductive performances. Another highlight is album-opener "Start Again," a collaboration with Raheem DeVaughn that echoes '70s Marvin Gaye. ~ Andy Kellman