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INDIA.ARIE  Testimony, Vol.1: Life & Relationships
 

INDIA.ARIE Testimony, Vol.1: Life & Relationships

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It's no wonder Stevie Wonder has embraced the work of the acoustic soul artist India.Arie: she sounds like his rightful heiress in the departments of singing her way to higher ground while keeping artistic control and artistry among her prime concerns.

Opening with the timeless "serenity prayer" set to her own melody, Arie spends the next 14 tracks exploring the depths of love and the human condition, revealing the life lessons that she believes she's learned and is hoping will carry her to a new place in her spiritual development. Of course she's set the journey to some seriously funky tracks and is accompanied by her own soaring vocals which virtually guarantees there's no stopping her from flying high.

Named in tribute to India's proponent of non-violence, Mahatma Ghandi, Arie was born in 1975 (her dad is basketball star Ralph Simpson). Straight out of the gate, she was nominated for a record-breaking seven Grammies, and took home two of the statuettes in 2002. Four years later, "Good Morning" greets the day with a slow-tempo, nearly bossa nova beat, while it mourns the loss of love.

"Private Party," rather than concerning itself with VIP Rooms and velvet ropes is about time spent alone in the act of looking deep inside one's self. Arie's soft and sensual delivery has the right gentle touch for the mood of this one. "There's Hope" has the flavor of a West Coast beat track, while it explores the myriad of possibilities for those who believe.

"India'Song" takes on African-American history on a bluesy-note. And Arie's guitar picking skills shine on "Wings of Forgiveness." But most surprising is her beat-drenched take on Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter," a completely reworked version of his adult radio classic.

A light, finger-picked ode to the seasons, "Summer," features Rascal Flatts and Victor Wooten, while Akon takes the lead on the uplifting and spirited "I Am Not My Hair," a seemingly simple topic that has been known to become an extremely political issue.

"Better People" has the same kind of kick up your heels, get off your booty oomph that makes you want to skip into action while "I Choose" is the exact kind of self-affirmation that you're rooting for the singer to exclaim. By the album's end, she has declared herself truly free from the shackles of her own limitations, while delivering her chant to a funky N'awlins beat.

No matter if she's mixing it up, throwing it down or just chillin' out, India.Arie's testimony to life and relationship suggests that she's well on her way to grabbing the best of both. It's hard to resist the temptation to root for her and to give her a "you go, girl"-style high five from the peanut gallery. We wish her well on Testimony: Vol. 2 and the future lessons her life will inevitably bring.

By Danielle Santiago

1. Intro: Loving

2. These Eyes

3. The Heart Of The Matter

4. Good Morning

5. Private Party

6. There's Hope

7. Interlude: Living

8. India'Song

9. Wings Of Forgiveness

10. Summer - Featuring Rascal Flatts And Victor Wooten

11. I Am Not My Hair - Featuring Akon

12. Great Grandmother

13. Better People

14. Outro: Learning

15. I Choose

16. This Too Shall Pass
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