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. Arie's relationship was apparently very serious, as demonstrated in "These Eyes," where she demands respect and wonders what her and his children would've been like. Though songs like "Good Mourning" deal with the immediate aftermath ("Good morning silence, good morning to myself/Good morning to the pain in the center of my chest"), they also seem to revel in it as just another part of being alive ("Good morning acceptance, good morning inner strength/I'm loving every moment, even the inner strain"). The album is a major production. Many of its songs involve well over a dozen musicians, some of which -- Rachelle Ferrell, Keb' Mo', Victor Wooten, Rascal Flatts, Acoustic Soul accomplice Mark Batson -- are bound to make some listeners freak. It's clear that Arie has been listening to a lot of country music; while these songs are completely hers (with the exception of Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter," a song that easily fits into the scheme of the album), it wouldn't be surprising to hear a handful of them covered by contemporary country artists. Since a significant portion of the album is centered around heartbreak and moving on, some of Arie's fans might not ever connect fully connect with it, but it will certainly be of great assistance to any of her fans who find themselves coping with something similar.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman