French singer Lucille Tee and Cali-based producer Fablive have combined to put together one of the best Franco-U.S. collaborations since French fries, a heady, psych- and hip-hop-influenced soul record that oozes cool.
Tee's vocal presence is like a less-nasal Erykah Badu, but with the same penchant for breathy, multilayered harmonies. But where Badu, for the most part, stays grounded in soul and R&B, even when working with hip-hoppers like Madlib, Dinner at the Thompson's sound on Off the Grid has the heavy knock to support a guest MC like Guilty Simpson, who shows up on the swinging "Rice'n'Beans."
Fablive's intricate production - which this particular reviewer would love to see paired up with any number of MCs - weaves hip-hop, jazz-soul, bits of electro and a heavy dose of modern psychedelia into the mix. On tracks like the twitchy "Levitating," the synth-stabbing "Whatever It Takes" and the uptempo "Different Beings" (featuring modern funkateer Lee Fields), the music is unerringly catchy, diverse and accomplished.
Three short, hidden tracks following the closer, "You are Love," also hint at the great potential this duo has to expand their range into solidly hip-hop territory.
Sit down to a little Dinner at the Thompson's; it's a well-prepared meal.