Listen Up: Wednesday, December 5, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
India.Arie

Voyage to India (Motown Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

India.Arie is part of the new breed of R&B singers who fuse warm, intimate vocals with elements of hip-hop — same group as Lauren Hill and Dallas’ own Erykah Badu. In fact, Arie and Badu even share a manager, Kedar Massenburg. All three singers have enjoyed remarkable commercial success, good news for anyone who yearns to hear gorgeously tuneful pop-R&B songcraft and emotive vocals without the histrionics or production wizardry that seem to be more the norm these days.

Arie’s as smooth and sensual as Sade, with whom she’s toured, but she’s warm where Sade’s cool. While I’m not one who subscribes to the theory that entertainers are obligated to be uplifting, I can’t help but be captivated by the upbeat, spiritual vibe of this disc, Voyage to India. It’s almost a throwback to the days when Stevie Wonder was routinely releasing instant pop classics and a Wonder concert could leave fans grooving on a natural high for days. If you think the Wonder comparison is far-fetched, listen to “Little Things,” “God Is Real,” the bonus track “Interested,” or “Good Man,” which I don’t remember hearing in the Mel Gibson Vietnam flick We Were Soldiers. And it’s on Motown to boot.

Arie’s melodies are so infectious that I almost forgot to run out of the room when I heard her singing, “Can I walk with you through your life / Can I lay with you as your wife.” And it’s hard not to like a writer who could pen a line like “If he were a car / He’d be a long stretch limousine / With room for all / Of humanity inside.” If there’s a weakness to this disc, it’s the relative lack of dynamic variation between the tracks. My advice: forget about it. Just wrap yourself in Arie’s voice like a warm blanket.


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