India Arie- SongVersation Album Review by Victoria Asbury

India Arie- SongVersationTitle: SongVersation
Artist: India Arie
Label: Motown Records
Genre(s): Soul, R&B, World, Folk, Neo-Soul
Released: June 25, 2013

R&B and neo-soul singer, India Arie has released her fifth solo album entitled SongVersation. The “Video” songstress sings about her usual topics: love, life, the spirits and positivity. While the platitude-filled album is far from amazing—India does not push herself vocally, nor does she invoke a strong reaction— SongVersation is a decent easy-listening album.

“Just Do You” and “Nothing That I Love More” start the album off with a fun, up-tempo sound. These songs will not inspire an electric slide or soul train line at a family reunion but they might give you an extra bounce as you clean your house on an early weekend morning.

“Life I Know” and “6th Ave” possess strong hints of folk music. Both songs have a simple, around a campfire quality. Interestingly, the lyrics of these tracks seem to contradict one another. In “Life I Know,” India Arie talks of hardships and loneliness while in “6th Ave,” Arie sings about her favorite place in New York: in the bed with the one she loves.

“Flowers” and “One” utilize wind instruments reminiscent of music from India, adding to the diversity of sounds on SongVersation.

“Moved By You” and “Thy Will Be Done” follow the gospel tradition. At first listen, “Moved By You” sounds like another love song. But when India sings, “I give thanks for my time upon the planet earth, by all of your beauty, I am so inspired, your love has baptized me by the fire,” you realize that Arie is referring to being moved by the spirit. This song had the potential of being a powerful song if India would have pushed a little harder. It will not be shocking if an urban gospel choir remakes this song, infusing more emotionality into the track. “Thy Will Be Done,” is a Caribbean influenced track, with a hook that borrows from a portion of the Lord’s Prayer. This well-produced track compliments India Arie’s voice better than any other song on SongVersation.

“Brothers’ Keeper”—another standout track, follows up “Thy Will Be Done.” “Brothers’ Keeper” is an ode to men, specifically Black men—although never explicitly stated. While India could have pushed a little harder vocally on this track, her voice is not as flat and low as in some of the other tracks on SongVersation. This song will likely be played heavily on urban airwaves.

The last track on SongVersation is a remake of Billy Holidays, “Strange Fruit.” Although this track sounds good vocally, the track has no place on the album. The lyrical content, the sound and the vibe of the “Strange Fruit” is extremely different from anything on the album. This song was not a good choice for a closing track to SongVersation.

In general, SongVersation is easy to listen to—if you don’t mind an overwhelming dose of simple clichés. This is not an album that will win Grammy Awards nor will it win new fans. SongVersation, will, however give old fans a decent album and urban radio stations a few new tracks to add to their rotations.

Rating: B-

Tracks We Like: “Thy Will Be Done” and “Brothers’ Keeper.”

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