Sometimes I think it’d be nice if you could invoice the record company for your time – you spent an hour listening to an album and you deserve some money for it. They could in turn tell you that they gave you a CD – that’s the payment for your time. Well, fair enough I guess.
The news here is pretty simple: I have listened to this new, appallingly titled, album by India.Arie. Her name, written the way it is, has always annoyed me. I was able to look past that for the rather-gorgeous-at-the-time Acoustic Soul; a strong debut – or at least it arrived at the right time.
But when there are people who offer class and depth (Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Cassandra Wilson) and quirkiness/sassiness (Janelle Monae) you have to wonder what purpose Arie serves. And SongVersation rolls out languidly across 20 songs. Which is at least a dozen too many given there’s so little to say and so little being said right here. There’s a cover of Strange Fruit that is so appalling as to remind that it’s not just whitey that shouldn’t touch that song. (Also, is Strange Fruit the new Hallelujah?)
But way before that this album grates with its too-kind earnestness, its peace-and-love-and-harmony clichés. And Arie is nothing special as a singer, writer, songstress.
So you should just rest easy that the only time you had to waste was in reading this. If you liked her other albums stick with them. And it’s all been downhill since Voyage To India exposed her as a one-trick pony anyway.