Completely biased CD review - India.Arie’s Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics

Disclaimer, preface, intro, explanation: pretty much any album India.Arie puts out has my wholehearted endorsement so this CD review is a departure from any attempt to be an unbiased journalist or culture and arts commentator.

…having said that let’s get into what I’m sure will be one of my favorite albums of 2009! :D

I believe everyone has an artist they love who somehow has the uncanny knack of taking your story, thoughts, and emotions and filtering it through their music as if they read your journal or eavesdropped on your conversations. For some, it’s Tupac. My brother told me once that listening to Tupac made him ponder the deeper things of life, even his relationship with God. For others, it’s Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill. For me, that artist is India.Arie (…and Eric Roberson lol but that’s for another cd review).

This Tuesday, India released her fourth album, Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. Here’s a review track for track:

1. Intro – Grains
I dig the intro, interlude, outro set up. India has stayed true to this for all four albums. This is the first time I actually wanted to hear a full song come of these interludes. “I’m grateful that, you continue to amaze me…”

2. Therapy
This song and “He Heals Me” are cut from the same cloth. Great wordplay here and I love how India can be sweet and sassy all at the same time.

3. Ghetto (featuring Gramps Morgan)
Interesting turn on the term ghetto in this song, I love how India used this song as a panoramic view of global and domestic poverty.

4. Chocolate High (featuring Musiq Soulchild)
Admittedly, I wasn’t in love with this song when I first heard it. It still isn’t one of my favorites on the album, but it’s got a nice groove, so it’s growing on me.

5. He Heals Me
Ladies and gentleman, stop the presses! Pause! This is BY FAR my FAVORITE song on the album. Is that enough CAPS for YOU?! LOL Okay, I have this thing about CDs where there is always a song that is really track 1 for me. Por ejemplo: On Anthony David’s Red Clay Chronicles for me the album starts at Smoke One. On Jay-Z’s American Gangster the album starts for me at American Dreamin’ and on Eric Roberson’s Left the album starts at Pen Just Cries Away. This album for me starts at He Heals Me. This song makes me want to cry every time I hear it. It’s beautifully written and the piano creates the perfect mood for her words. I could go on…sigh…sigh emoticon…but I’ll move on for now. :)

6. Interlude – Grains

7. Pearls (featuring Dobet Gnahore)
There are two images here that struck me as strong metaphor. 1) the idea that we all have something to offer, to hold as precious, and the stories of women across the world who go through such pains to do so. 2) the idea of something hurting like brand new shoes. How typically, a woman’s shoes are a symbol of the pain we endure for what we think is beautiful. Haunting, yet beautiful imagery here.

8. River Rise
This song has such reverence and hope in its lyrics. The organ lilt gives this tune the feel of an old spiritual or hymn. This one also makes me want to cry when I hear it. “I bow down, I surrender today. I can’t do this, Lord I need your help.”

9. Yellow (featuring Terrell Carter)
Cliché to say I love the color of this one? LOL I like the groove and the imagery here too and Terrell Carter’s presence doesn’t hurt at all! :D

10. Better Way
I like how this one rocks. The guitar on this one is great!

11. Interlude – Grains

12. Long Goodbye
The dichotomy and tension in this song is so honest. This is one of my favorites.

13. Psalms 23 (featuring MC Lyte)
Um can we say how AMAZING it is that India.Arie and the LYTE are on the same song! I love the release-the-haters-and-negativity message here and hearing Lyte kick the lyrics was a wonderful bonus! Kudos on the artist choice for this India. Love it!

14. The Cure (featuring Sezen Aksu)
This is a feel good song with a positive message. I like that she doesn’t just sing about love as the cure but challenges the listener to action.

15. Outro – Grains

16. A Beautiful Day
This is the theme song I pull from the album. I always get a theme song from India’s albums. First Album: Strength, Courage & Wisdom. Second Album: Beautiful Surprise. Third Album: I Choose. And now this one. What a great way to end the album.

Okay fellow India fans…what are your favorite songs from the album? What are your India theme songs from any of the albums? Let’s tawk. :)


Jessica said...

Amena I'Ive never met you nor do I live even remotely close to you - all I know is that I agree with every word you wrote in this blog.
The new India CD is what I would say (quoting LL) something like a phenomenon. She speaks with wisdom, grace and writes words that are written on my heart. I however don’t like every song, but the CD begins for me at "he heals me". I absolutely love that song. AS WELL, chocolate high wasn't my cup of tea at first, but the beat is solid - and very catchy.
-GHETTO is AMAZING.. and is ART.. it creates so many visuals. I experienced this feeling this summer while I was living in LA.. the projects are really like a third world country sometimes.

-Pearls is .. well there isn't a word in the dictionary to describe her lyrical quality in this song.. its amazing. Truly captivating.

She can do no wrong in my eyes.. except for Yellow in which I skip every time, I think I might need to give it a chance someday.

River rise is a song I worship to.. seriously how can she write my heart so well?

Psalm 23 is amazing, and its a good look into her life - and journey.

Lastly I read the "liner notes" if you will - and her msg to her fans is beautiful and makes me feel like we are best friends.

India is one of the most amazing musicians in this world, she understands women and this world on a level that is not reached by so many. Which is a quality I admire of you in your spoken word/poems.
As for Indian I find that for every season of my life im playing one of her songs.
Im so glad you posted this amazing CD Review, and someone values her music as much as I do!


amena bee said...

hey jessica! thanks for reading. all these weeks later and i am STILL listening to india's album every day. i LOVE it. keep in touch!

Jessica said...

I still am listening to her too!
The CD is like a good book you want to read over and over again, and with every read you gain a new perspective or insight into it.
She's BRILLIANT, and has so much insight. Shes definitely in the category with Jill Scott and Lauryn Hill - greatest singers/song writers.