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Voyage to India (Special Edition)

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Album Review

Despite an excellent debut, India.Arie still had much to prove with her second record. Several of her neo-soul compatriots, from D'Angelo to Erykah Badu to Macy Gray, had faltered with sophomore albums, and it appeared she may have already said everything she had to say on Acoustic Soul. That anticipation, and trepidation, is exactly what makes Voyage to India such a beautiful surprise; it's a record that easily equals her debut, boasting better vocal performances but also better songwriting and accompanying production. As on her debut, there is a marked balance of organic and artificial: an acoustic guitar paces many tracks, though the edges are shorn off for a digital feel; the beats are often sampled, but there are still plenty of handclaps and fingersnaps; and the arrangements are simple yet obviously very polished. The improvement in her songwriting is most obvious from the first three tracks (after the short intro). The themes driving "Little Things" (keeping it simple), "Talk to Her" (the importance of honesty, warmth, and communication in relationships), and "Slow Down" (taking life one day at a time) certainly have been covered already, many times, even, but India.Arie writes with a fresh perspective that makes it sound as though she's the first to broach the topic. And, finally, her delivery is the best of any neo-soul vocalist, barring only the incomparable Jill Scott, alternately earnest and playful and sexy and questing. It all adds up to one of the most glowing comebacks of the year (if she ever left), an important record whose stamp — the Motown logo — isn't the only thing it has in common with a classic LP by Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder. [The Special Edition, released in 2010, contains a second disc featuring several remixes and contemporaneous compilation cuts.]

Biography

Born: 03 October 1975 in Denver, CO

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Among the neo-classic soul artists to emerge in the early 2000s, following the success of artists like D'Angelo and Lauryn Hill, Atlanta's India.Arie was poised to make a major impact. A studied songwriter and guitar player rooted in the soul and blues of the past, as well as in positive-minded contemporary hip-hop, Arie debuted with Acoustic Soul. Rich with with resonant hooks and mature lyrics — impressive, considering she been writing songs for only five years...
Full bio
Voyage to India (Special Edition), India.Arie
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