India.Arie - Worthy (2019)

India.Arie
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India.Arie - Worthy

It's an unfortunate fact that we are living in toxic times: whether it’s the oceans, the air or the imagery we're bombarded with, it becomes necessary at times to step back, reassess and unburden ourselves of the pollutants inside. India Arie Simpson, despite her unit sales, Grammy Awards and indelible impact on neo-era soul, still usually felt compelled to water down her musical messages, up until now.  When asked by Oprah Winfrey to pinpoint the moment that "unworthiness" became a mantra in her music, India unpacked her inhibitions, owned her instincts and created the her 9th release, the overdue and aptly-named Worthy.

India.Arie - Worthy

It's an unfortunate fact that we are living in toxic times: whether it’s the oceans, the air or the imagery we're bombarded with, it becomes necessary at times to step back, reassess and unburden ourselves of the pollutants inside. India Arie Simpson, despite her unit sales, Grammy Awards and indelible impact on neo-era soul, still usually felt compelled to water down her musical messages, up until now.  When asked by Oprah Winfrey to pinpoint the moment that "unworthiness" became a mantra in her music, India unpacked her inhibitions, owned her instincts and created the her 9th release, the overdue and aptly-named Worthy.

Steeped in her signature blend of folk, neo-soul and traditional R&B, India.Arie aligns with new collaborators (Chuck Butler, Joel Cross) with prior ones (Brandon Burch, Shannon Sanders) and shares catchy, yet well-crafted odes to humanity, Black Girl Magic, good love and the turbulent times undergirding it all. Fans of India's delicate phrasing and throaty alto will find nothing amiss, from the whimsical "Follow the Sun" to the gentle, yet resolute self-esteem mantra of the title track. Ms. Arie has even learned the art of not taking herself so seriously, adding pinches of relatable salt and sarcasm to her lofty ideals: "You'd be surprised at what we deal with, the way we show up and kill [expletive]/I love my brown skin so much, and this was way before Wakanda," she chuckles in the pulsing and powerful "Shoulda Would Coulda." She applies that same gumption to the urgent Black Power shout-out, "What If," pointing out that our forebearers faced their sizable obstacles and each generation should do the same. 

No matter the topic---from today's harrowing news trends ("Rollercoaster") to meditative healing turns of melody (the lilting, Bob Marley-inspired "Prayer to Humanity") and yes, even tributes to head-turning, toe-curling fantasy-men-turned-reality ("In Good Trouble," "That Magic" and "Steady Love") -- India.Arie's  fully-realized vocals pour into your ears and conscience like warm and fragrant Shea butter, soothing you with its surety as the timeliness resonates. With her track record, Ms. Simpson has little left to prove. But toxic times call for our best and our brightest to perform the cleansing, and India.Arie is indeed Worthy of such a weighty task. Enthusiastically Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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