Picks and Pans Review: India.Arie

UPDATED 07/03/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/03/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship
REVIEWED BY CHUCK ARNOLD
ALT-R&B

Only India.Arie could turn a painful breakup into such a positive experience. Instead of being bitter, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter uses her inspirational third album to testify about her personal journey to find strength, courage and wisdom from a failed relationship. Next time you feel the urge to burn all his stuff, listen to Miss India: "If Nelson Mandela can forgive his oppressors/ Surely I can forgive you for your passion," she sings on "Wings of Forgiveness," one of the most upbeat breakup songs you're ever likely to hear. Forgiveness is also a theme of Arie's soulful remake of Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter." It's an unlikely cover choice for an R&B artist, but that goes to show her willingness to defy genre categorizations. She even recruits Gary Lenox of Rascal Flatts to harmonize with her on "Summer," a breezy, country-style ditty. Meanwhile, the hip-hop-inflected "I Am Not My Hair" plays like a sequel to her breakthrough 2001 hit "Video," serving as another anthem for African-American women. [STARS 3.5]
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