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I first heard of India Arie when I saw her on Later With Jools Holland when she released this album in 2001. She was born
India Arie Simpson on October 3, 1975 in Denver Colorado, her father Ralph Simpson was an NBA Player and her mother Joyce was a former singer herself.
India started having an interest in music at an early age and she pretty soon started learning to play various instruments. Though She is most well known for playing the guitar. She was discovered by a motown executive in 1999 and two years later released her debut album Acoustic Soul.
She has a great voice that has a substantial range allowing her to sing some great tender moments and then erupt in a fantastic almost gospel like chant. One of the best singers in her genre and similar to Lauryn Hill's more tender moments but she has a unique vocal tone which makes her instantly recognisable when you hear her music.
Acoustic Soul is a unique mix of hip hop, neo soul, blues and folk, It was nominated for an amazing seven Grammy Awards in 2002, including "Album of the Year" and "Best R&B Album" And it was released on the Motown label. It was most successful in the United States reaching number three on the Billboard album charts but only charted at 55 in the UK album charts.
There are Sixteen tracks on the album and they are very autobiographical and there are a few different styles on the album which show off her versatility. So without further ado here is my review of Acoustic Soul by India Arie.
1.)Intro" - 0:50
This is a gentle short opening introduction to the album and has a nice feel and shows the direction to the album.
2.) Video" - 4:09
I loved this track from the moment I heard it in 2001. This is a lovely flowing track with a great beat. The track has a great message for fellow women. It's about learning to love yourself unconditionally. A great message as it shows the importance of having confidence in yourself.
3.) Promises" - 4:37
This is a funky track with some soft drums and India's guitar and voice sounding on top form. A track about broken promises, this track works really well and flows with a great confidence. One of the best tracks on the album.
4.) Brown Skin" - 4:56
This is a great ballad about a romantic mood with her partner. The track has a nice beat and it has a very flowing feel to it. One of the best tracks on the album and was the second single from Acoustic Soul.
5.) Strength, Courage & Wisdom" - 4:57
This starts with a catchy beat and some nice keyboard hooks then India's voice comes in, this track is exactly what is says on the tin. A track about having strength, courage and wisdom. A very flowing track that works very well indeed.
6.) Nature" - 4:24
This is not one of the best tracks on Acoustic Soul as it doesnt really develop as well as some of the others. It has a thumping beat that is accompanied by her guitar and voice. A good track but not as great as the others.
7.) Back to the Middle" (featuring Blue Miller) - 5:11
Back on track with a great track that is the one of the catchiest on the album. It starts with a guitar melody that sounds like it was featured on a Tracy Chapman. This is about the human condition and works well. A beautiful track.
8.) Ready for Love" - 4:28
This brings shivers down my spine. A slow track that has India singing softly and her voice sounds amazing. she has such a pure and clear voice. One of the best she is ever likely to record in her career. Quite stunning.
9.) Interlude" - 1:24
A common occurence in the genre where they mood of the album changes and there is a little interlude between each mood. a nice interlude for what it's worth.
10.) Always in My Head" - 4:40
This opens with India saying "you're like a cool breeze". This is a great track about when you can't get someone out of your mind. They just have a hold over you and you can't let go. A great subject matter done very well.
11.) I See God in You" - 3:17
This is a funky hip hop track which has some nice background sounds that work well with the beat. Not the best on the the album but still woth listening to.
12.) Simple" - 3:26
This has a taut hip hop bassline and India comes in humming. This track isnt one of the best on the album as it doesnt have that spark that the best on Acoustic Soul do.
13.) Part of My Life" - 4:03
This is a song with Anthony David who I saw supporting Boyz II Men in Birmingham this year. This has a nice feel to it and is one of the better tracks on the second half of the album. very nicely done.
14.) Beautiful" - 4:05
I love this track. It starts with soft guitar and a drum beat and the develops with India's vocals. This is a lovely ballad which has a relaxing feel. get a nice cold drink, put your feet up and listen to this relaxing track.
15.) Outro" - 1:20
This is a thank you to her family, It is a nice touching addition to the album and is something that works rather well with a nice soft acoustic guitar.
16.) Wonderful (Stevie Wonder Dedication)" - 5:31
This is a tribute to Stevie Wonder, who is one of her favourite artists of all time and this is a great ending to the album and Is a catchy track. This track works really well and is a toucing tribute. It would be interesting if more artists did this kind of thing.
This is a very good debut album indeed and shows her depth as a songwriter, musician and singer. There are some really great tracks on this album but the slight inconsistency in the part of the album after the interlude makes this album lose a star. She has released three albums since and as she is only 37 has many more albums to come. She is a talent to look out for as she has great versatility and a touching delivery. A fine talent. She's set to release her new album this year entitled "Songversation".
Disc #1 Tracklisting
5 Strength, Courage & Wisdom
7 Back To The Middle
8 Ready For Love
10 Always In My Head
11 I See God In You
13 Part Of My Life
16 Wonderful (Stevie Wonder Dedication)