India.Arie's third album would've sounded much different if it had been recorded and released shortly after 2002's Voyage to India. It would've either been made just before or immediately after a major breakup, one that informs much of Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship. This isn't a bitter breakup album; instead, it's largely a breakup album that instead involves forgiveness, closure, and -- of course -- the kind of soul searching that Arie's fans have come to expect.
Three years ago, the Grammy-winning Voyage Around India proved India.Arie was more than just the troubled conscience of the neo-soul scene. Now she's out to show she can live without love with Testimony: Vol 1, a long, bumpy journey through the death of a relationship and Arie's emergence into womanhood. A confessional that falls in the cracks between Jack Johnson's acoustic naivety and Lauryn Hill's hip-hop-influenced honesty, Arie's smooth, husky voice isn't enough to forgive the jaw-dropping simplicity and clumsiness of her songs.