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Album review | R&B

India.Arie, ‘SongVersation’

India.Arie’s musical conversation about the affirmation of the soul continues with “SongVersation,” her first record in four years. More than a decade after her debut, Arie’s music and message have become overly familiar while her broadly brushed lyrics frequently sound too transparent. There’s still beauty in her simplicity, though. When the singer-songwriter gets things right on “This Love” or the understated “Life I Know,” she offers an antidote to the cynical and nihilistic tendencies often found in pop music today. When she misses (“Cocoa Butter,” “Flowers”), her comforting music is about as compelling as a bowl of lukewarm oatmeal. Certainly, many will be inspired by the one-world uplift of “One” and poppy you-go-girl themes of “Just Do You,” in which she sings, “There’s a story waiting for you to write it / There’s a treasure waiting for you to find it.” Musically, she remains a sophisticated, confident formalist, but a sense of playfulness or adventure is missing. More like the fine reggae of “Thy Will Be Done” would be a welcome change of pace. (Out Tuesday)KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL “This Love”

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