The music industry, as always, is the obedient trend follower. Once artists climbs up the charts record companies scurry to find, or sometimes create, the next big thing.

After Alanis there was Jewel, Meredith and Natalie. When Britney made it ? Christina, Jessica and Mandy ?sings-from-the-side-of-her-mouth? Moore arrived shortly thereafter.

With Erykah?s success, we find Jill Scott surfacing and, now, India.Arie bursting into the biz scene.

India.Arie is the newest addition to the neosoul phenomenon. She is signed under Motown record?s rooster and was a Lilith chick. Her debut ?Acoustic Soul? is a collection of soul ballads and bluesy folk hymns.

India.Arie?s name is, as you might?ve realized, a bit different. The dot between her first and last name looks peculiar. One can?t help but wonder if she is trying to be unique or if her father is a Web site. But, regardless of her name, compared to what is on radio nowadays, her music sticks out like Cher?s old nose.

As an introduction to India.Arie, her record company released a music video titled ?Video.? The song was a marvelous rant on the objectification of women in the media. It serves as an insightful statement when sandwiched between ?The Thong Song?2 and Britney sexually molesting a chair.

The rest of the album follows the debut single in a mellower tone. ?Promises? brings the atmosphere of a dim bar, while ?Brown Skin? is a ballad to shag by. The promising debut does not plummet from there. The album evolves into a mature anthology of songs for life.

?Strength, Courage & Wisdom? develops into a sing-along after a couple of listens ? habit that you will form after you play this album.

There is nothing better than a low-key tune with hard bass beats, which this album offers in ?Nature.? India.Arie is experimental with her music, but doesn?t stray out of the soul category. ?Back To The Middle? is reminiscent of a young Tracy Chapman.

?Ready For Love? and ?Always In My Head? are connected by a slow interlude, which some people underestimate the power of. In this case, the interlude blends the sonic themes of both songs.

Interludes are used to create a certain atmosphere by interconnecting songs ? it works magic for some artists.

The album moves on to more street-wise beats. ?I See God In You? makes a pleasurable lullaby, but ?Simple? outranks the tracks with its subtle melodic approach.

India.Arie is very similar to other neosoul artists. She has the earthiness of Erykah Badu and the smooth edge of which D?Angelo is a master of. However, she has the moodiness of Des?ree and the meloncholy voice that will remind you of a slow Billie Holiday.

?Part Of My Life? sounds like a slow-mo Motownphilly tune, while ?Beautiful? is a mellow ballad.

The moody album ends with a skillfully crafted tribute to her role model Stevie Wonder. With this bonus track, ?Acoustic Soul? is concluded with an uplifting air.

Her new video might help as a sneak peek of the album, but there is no assurance that this soultress will float through the media?s short-lasting attention to talented newcomers who can bust a tune without having synthesizers plugged in everywhere ? a brave thing to do.

There are few albums that take you up and then down and still leave you satisfied. What makes ?Acoustic Soul? remarkable is India.Arie?s blatant approach to making music for the soul.



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