Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Testimony: Volume 1, Life and Relationship
India Arie is arguably the most positive person in pop music…and that’s an incredibly cool thing indeed. Even when she’s singing about heartbreak and ended relationships…as on the jaunty “Wings of Forgiveness”, the reflective “These Eyes”, and her shimmering cover of Don Henley’s “The Heart of the Matter”… she does so with an unshakeable emphasis on forgiveness and positive lessons learned.
Testimony: Volume 1, Life and Relationship is filled with songs of faith and empowerment…songs of self-awareness and hope for humankind…songs that could be insufferably cloying were it not for India’s sweetly earnest outlook that colors each of them. She also paints her songs from a rich, warm and welcoming sonic pallet (rich keyboards, warm guitars, gentle beats) that draws the listener in and holds them fast (and totally engaged) from beginning to end.
From the self-affirmations of “I Am Not My Hair” (this mix featuring rapper Akon…though I actually preferred the rap-free version of the song that was released as a single a few months back) and the gospel-flavored “I Choose” (featuring some tasty guitar by Bonnie Raitt) and “Good Morning” to tributes to the better angels of human nature like the sunny “There’s Hope” and the optimistic “Better People”, India is unflaggingly upbeat and it never seems forced or affected.
Along the way she name checks some of her heroes…Jesus, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela…and on “Private Party”, she slips in a sly quote from a song by her mentor and inspiration, Stevie Wonder…and it all flows smoothly without coming off as too precious or too naive.
Testimony (which was India’s first #1 album on the Billboard chart) is a sweet, uplifting, entertaining journey…a journey I will continue to take happily for some time to come.