Sometimes simplicity can go a long way. That is why artists like India.Arie manage to survive and succeed in an industry of overproduction and glitz. Arie returns after bearing her “Acoustic Soul” to the world. She is now ready to take us on a “Voyage To India” and it’s worth taking.

Although the first track'”Growth,” is an interlude opening up the second chapter in Arie’s anthology, this record, in many senses, is more of a continuation of the previous rather than an evolution of the artist.

The only difference is the first single “Little Things” which is a track that, surprisingly, does not have any guitars on it, but its lyrics capture the same granola down-to-earth essence as her debut single “Video.”

“Talk to Her” is a run-on song. But Arie’s way with melodies is best depicted by the mood jam “Slow Down” and the uplifting folk ditty “Beautiful Surprise.”

Considering all aspects Arie brings into her craft, one could say that Arie’s sound is a cross between Erykah Badu and Tracy Chapman.

Arie’s diverse influences play a role in her distinct sound. As she has stated in her previous album, her influences range from Stevie Wonder to Karen Carpenter.

“Get It Together”, a song about maintaining strength when times are rough, captures that with her warm vocals and guitar-lead melody. Then, “Headed In The Right Direction” starts out like an ’80’s Luther Vandross anthem and then wanes towards the end.

All songs aside, Arie shines most on “Can I Walk With You” ? a song about the need to belong. Arie’s vocals on this song depict a yearning like no other. This is definitely a gem, if Motown Records had any sense this would be the next single.

“Voyage To India” then meanders into sharp beats on “The One” and “Complicated Melody,” which is exactly what it says ? it doesn’t go anywhere. But the fall is cushioned by “Good Man” and the bonus track “Interested,” which keeps Arie’s soulful tradition alive.

This album is bound to be a coffee shop favorite.

It contains slow jams, simple, yet deep folk numbers and sultry vocals. Although it is a well-rounded album, it sounds more like “Acoustic Soul 2” rather than a record with its own unique taste.

Al-Qatami can be reached at

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