Musicwhore.org could very well take everything it said the last time about India.Arie and apply it to her new album.
The holistically-minded, acoustic guitar-strumming R&B singer has deviated little from the hit-making template she forged on 2001’s Acoustic Soul.
In creativespeak, lack of movement is just as dangerous as misstepping, but somehow, Miss Arie has managed to cross that chasm without losing footing.
Voyage to India pretty much deals with the same kinds of themes Arie dealt with a year ago — be comfortable in your own skin, to thine own self be true.
“Get It Together” is a thematic cousin to “Video”, but Arie shift the focus from media idealization to ageism. Or as she simple states, “You’ll never be whole if you don’t see the beauty of growing old.”
On “Talk to Her”, Arie lectures men about treating women right and takes the high road by not using the words “bitch” or “ho”.
The demands of success definitely weigh on Arie’s mind this time around, with such tracks as “Little Things” and “Slow Down” telling folks on a fast track not to lose focus on the things that make them unique.
On paper, these sentiments can seem downright treacly, and on a few tracks, Arie does get too sacchrine.
Is the man Arie describes on “Complicated Melody” gay? Almost sounds like it, but given my own dating record, gay men wouldn’t even give Arnold Schoenberg inspiration.
Surprisingly, Arie is most convincing where other artists get downright preachy. On “God Is Real”, Arie makes her case for a capital-letter God not with blind, patronizing devotion but with a simple, direct observation. The world’s beauty, Arie argues, is proof enough for her.
Because of its musical similarity to Acoustic Soul, Voyage to India doesn’t stand out as either a progression or regression for Arie. It’s a comfort zone, one that feels great — especially given all the bad metal out there right now — but one that could get too quaint, too easily.
In the end, Arie will do what she does, and if it means heading in the same direction as before, the conviction of her performance will no doubt make that last paragraph sound downright foolish.
Let’s hope she’s right.