Album: India.Arie <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Testimony: Vol 1, Life and Relationship, MOTOWN
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The Independent Culture

Dear Lord, can there ever have been a more off-putting title than this? Not only does it promise a gruelling trawl through India Arie's ups and downs, it also holds out the prospect of more volumes of unappetising autobiographical turmoil to come. Sadly, one's fears prove well-founded, with Arie reacting to a break-up in "Heart of the Matter" by wondering "How can I survive in such a graceless age?", and reflecting in "Wings of Forgiveness" that "if Nelson Mandela can forgive his oppressors, surely I can forgive you your passion?". The warm glow of self-satisfaction and moral superiority curdles virtually every track - even the agreeable sentiments of a song like "Better People", in which she advocates inter-generational discourse. And although India herself would appear to have impeccable manners, she seems to be fighting the same fight as five years ago, with "I Choose" and the single "I Am Not My Hair" in effect repeating the self-determinist message of her debut "Video", only not quite as catchily. The saddest thing of all, though, is that this once-original artist has now capitulated to diva norms, introducing most tracks with that irritating, wordless vocal fluttering that passes for "soul" these days.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'I Am Not My Hair', 'There's Hope'