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Testimony, Vol. 2: Love and Politics

India.Arie

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Album Review

India.Arie cited creative pressures as one factor in the gap between Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, her last album for Motown, and Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics, her debut for Universal Republic. Motown possibly was not content enough to yield to the instincts of an artist with three consecutive Top Ten albums and a pair of Grammy awards (to go with 14 additional nominations). Testimony: Vol. 2 is, if anything, merely a moderate progression from Testimony: Vol. 1, not sounding anything like a severe turn from Arie's past. However, the variety of guest collaborators naturally signals and fosters her most eclectic, hardest-to-pigeonhole set yet; in addition to Musiq (Soulchild) and MC Lyte, reggae artist Gramps Morgan, Turkish star Sezen Aksu, and African vocalist Dobet Gnahore (present on a cover of Sade's "Pearls") are featured. Regardless of the non-standard inspirations and unexpected guests, Arie could perform every one of these songs live with just her guitar and not risk shortchanging her audience. Given the new wrinkles, it's not startling that her outlook here has a wider scope, her viewpoint wiser and more outward looking than before, exemplified most through "Ghetto" — which seems to take cues from War's "The World Is a Ghetto," building off the notion of people all around the planet facing the same plight — and the slow, bluesy stomp of the firmly U.S.-centric "Better Way" (featuring Keb' Mo' on guitar). The tone of the relationship songs is more upbeat, and even occasionally lighthearted, relative to those of Testimony: Vol. 1, adding a pleasant contrast to the more serious material. If her former label could accuse her of anything, it's that she did not deliver a big single (she does not have a single Top 40 hit), and that's something that won't likely change anytime soon. Her fanbase, big enough to grant Arie gold sales, will gladly take a fourth steady and honest album over a big pop hit.

Biography

Born: 03 October 1975 in Denver, CO

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of a handful of neo-classic soul artists to emerge following the late-'90s success of artists like D'Angelo and Lauryn Hill, Atlanta's India.Arie stood poised at the beginning of 2001 to make a major impact. A studied songwriter and guitar player rooted in the R&B, soul, Motown, and blues of the past, but grounded in the post-hip-hop urban world of today, Arie's debut, Acoustic Soul, was...
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Testimony, Vol. 2: Love and Politics, India.Arie
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