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India Arie - Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship Review

by Ashleigh Hill

Daily Affirmation in Folk / R&B Form

I think it's become quite clear over the past few years that it's not possible to dislike India Arie. She pays tribute after tribute to the spirit, attitude, truth, a love of others and appreciation of self. On the same hand, some of her music has proven insatiable; her voice genuine. Reading through Testimony: vol. 1, Life & Relationship's six-page Thank-You's, one would think that the actual disk would feature all of the aforementioned, strewn heavily through the 16 tracks. It's sprinkled. Testimony, the R&B singer/songwriter's third album, begins with the nearly cliché Saint Francis of Assisi prayer ("Lord grant me the serenity..."), and somehow takes it off the green kitchen plaque and gives it real meaning. Beautiful. Arie keeps the genuine clarity through the next few songs, even managing to make Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter" her own. However, most of Testimony sounds like the easy-listening radio receptionists turn down low in their cubicles. This album's lyrics don't quite match up to the previous Acoustic Soul and neither do the mundane, repetitive beats. Arie created such a clean, creative persona for herself, and never dove into it. Not many artists have mastered the art of wrestling prose/poetry into song form, and Arie is not one of them. Testimony is more of a discussion amongst friends than an influential release. Check out Intro: "Loving", "These Eyes", and "Summer" (but only for the Victor Wooten showcase). One must applaud Arie's emotional guide to self esteem and clearing of the spirit, but her musical capabilities far extend Testimony. She should write books, maybe even try her hand at life coaching. There's got to be a better way to express such important acknowledgments than through sub par folk / R&B forms, and Arie is probably the one to figure it out.

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