If India.Arie were to retire from music, she could easily support herself churning out self-help books for these orange-alert times. In a sense, she’s already begun the process with her second album, Voyage to India. The disc sustains the twitchy coffeehouse R&B found on its predecessor, last year’s ”Acoustic Soul”; with Lauryn Hill wrestling demons and Erykah Badu wrestling her way out of that headdress, Arie has the market for positivity-minded bohos to herself, and the tracks stick to soothing, non-hip-hop textures and rhythms. The effects can be compelling (”Good Man,” about a man who leaves his woman and child) and agreeably upbeat (”Can I Walk With You”).
But hooks are not as important to Arie as is guidance. If the album were a book, each song would be a chapter, complete with self-explanatory title and often heavy-handed message. For instance: keeping career priorities straight (”Little Things”). How to avoid feeling overwhelmed in a chaotic world (”Slow Down”). Ways to show respect to women (”Talk to Her”). Dealing with the men you love who drive you nuts (”Complicated Melody,” ”The Truth”). What to do when you want to commit — but he doesn’t (”The One”). And, finally, the healing power of a new relationship (”Beautiful Surprise”). Thankfully, Arie keeps the music light and flowing, so even the most self-righteous lines (”I do this for the music/Not the glitter and gold”) breeze by. At this rate, she’s headed for an O-style magazine of her own — but would it be called I. or I.A.?