India.Arie, SongVersation: Medicine | Album Review
R&B singer/songwriter India.Arie returns with EP SongVersation: Medicine, her first new solo project following a four-year hiatus.
India.Arie has joined the ranks – of indie R&B artists. Returning with an eight-track EP, SongVersation: Medicine, the project is part of the BMG Rights Management fold. Even though Arie is Motown-less on her latest project, her sound is virtually unchanged. If anything, she plays even more into the stripped, organic musical quality.
“I Am Light”
“I Am Light” opens SongVersation: Medicine in enlightened, empowered fashion. The production work is simple, led by acoustic guitar accompaniment. Vocally, Arie sounds smooth as always, with her voice giving off a certain ambience. The record doesn’t pack a knockout punch, but sounds true to India.Arie artistically. Interestingly, a different version appeared on SongVersation in 2013.
Another reprisal occurs – at least to an extent –with “Soulbird Rise.” The results are superb ultimately. “Soulbird Rise” is low-key, but allows for Arie’s vocals to shine without the slightest bit of inhibition. While this record won’t excite the multitudes, its soundness is indisputable.
More light arrives on “Light of the Holy Spirit.” Like the songs that precede it, simplicity is the M.O. Essentially, “Light of the Holy Spirit” is deep because of its concept as opposed to its lyrics or overall execution. Spirituality tends to expand the depth of secular songs, which is the case throughout the course of SongVersation: Medicine. Lyrically, however, Arie isn’t delivering a poetic masterclass, but the songs give off the desired effect.
“Give Thanks” is a perfect example of depth in spite of a lack of depth. Huh? Arie approaches “Give Thanks” like a Contemporary Christian song, with repeated lyrics on the verse. There are few lyrics, yet, her messaging is prudent and ultimately, transcendent. At the end of the song, she brings together the few lyrics, successfully closing one of the set’s highlights:
“Just Let It Go” exemplifies healing, hence, a perfect fit for the Medicine that India.Arie is offering. The vibe is empowerment to the nth degree – showing incredible resolve through adversity. “But you don’t have to wait for an apology, or for someone else to make amends,” Arie sings on the first verse. She continues on, singing, “When you can remember, that your healing is in your hands.” Ultimately, she urges, “Just let it go,” meaning, the pain and the negative stuff.
“Breathe” commences with harmonized vocals, performed in a poised, but soulful manner. Arie commands the lead, still failing to break a sweat. Messaging continues to be her best friend, as she continues to tout a message of pressing forward. To her credit, Arie packs more punch on the bridge and beyond, the most grit she shows throughout the course of SongVersation: Medicine.
“Chicken Soup in a Song” continues the good vibes, using chicken soup as the medicine to catalyze the healing:
“So, I wrote you this / Chicken soup in a song / May you be cozy and warm / Wherever you are / Chicken soup in a song / May you be cozy and warm / Wherever you are.”
“Life is Good” concludes SongVersation: Medicine in a combination of indie, singer/songwriter, and pop/rock styles. This sounds like nothing else on the album musically. Additionally, “Life is Good” kicks up the tempo and finds Arie pushing her pipes more.
All in all, India.Arie remains consistent and true-to-herself on SongVersation: Medicine. This isn’t a flashy project, but sound and respectable by all means. The main rub with Medicine is that Arie doesn’t offer much new that she hasn’t already presented in the past. After a four-year hiatus since her last solo album, it would’ve been nice to hear something that progresses her awesome musicianship even to the next level. Still, nonetheless, SongVersation: Medicine is business as usual for India.
Gems: “Soulbird Rise,” “Give Thanks” & “Breathe”