Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
3½ stars - A good album, but it's a bit disappointing coming from India.
on February 14, 2009
India.Arie is just one of those artists who I can always rely on for consistently excellent music. In my honest opinion, Testimony Volume 1: Life & Relationship is her greatest achievement thus far. It is cohesive, sincere (sans the Akon appearance, as we have learned from interviews), daring, creative, a bit experimental, incredibly well-written, and--oh!--did she have some things to say. The fact that many India.Arie fans prefer Volume 2 over her last effort is completely baffling to me. It makes me feel a bit guilty that I am not in this group, especially since I am now aware of how Love & Politics is her first escape from the creative struggle between her and Motown. But maybe India needs a little bit of guidance from a record executive every once in awhile, because this album, to me, is very hit and miss, a bit misguided, and a bit all-over-the-place. One of the points of the album is for India to collaborate with people from all different parts of the world and all different genres. She succeeded. Here, she works with everyone from hip hop pioneer MC Lyte, to reggae artist Gramps Morgan, to Turkish pop singer Sezen Aksu. But this makes the whole album feel divided, which I guess is just another result of the iPod generation. It also doesn't help that the types of songs included here range from stadium-rock-soul hybrids ("Long Goodbye"), to a Sade re-make ("Pearls), to a first single that half-heartedly chases the mainstream ("Therapy"). The lack of cohesiveness aside, this isn't a bad album, but I definitely believe it's India's worst album to date. Quite a few of these songs, in my opinion, should simply remain as B-sides. The lyrics to "Yellow" are sincere, but quite cheesy, and there aren't any musical emebellishments to make the track more enjoyable. "Long Goodbye" is too dramatic for my tastes, "Ghetto" is underwhelming, and "River Rise," which initially sounds like a promising track, falls short. The excellent tracks completely override the duller moments, though. "Chocolate High" is a sweet and refreshing duet with Musiq Soulchild. "He Heals Me," a gospel-infused love ballad, is one of the best songs of India's a career so far. "Better Way" is the Southern-fried lovechild of "Better People" and "I Choose" from Testimony: Volume 1. "Psalms 23" is an inspirational recount of the artist's trials and tribualtions and the middle-Eastern tinged "The Cure" is very enjoyable, also. The "Grains" interludes were also excellent, and I wish she would've fused them into a complete song. Overall, Testimony: Volume 2 is a good album, and it is also a triumph, at least for the simple fact that India.Arie is now free to be creative without ever having to answer to a major lablel. Still, there are quite a few flaws--it is most cerainly not a superb album from start to finish, like the first volume--and I would definitely recommend her other three albums before buying this.