Will Downing has been churning out hits for many years. In addition to his original classic love songs, he also has a knack of re-creating tracks in his unmistakable vocal style.
Now, Downing has a new message that is just in time for the Holidays. Inspirational music. Back in 2007, Downing was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease polymyositis, so you can understand how that experience really influenced him to record this album.
The Promise is a heartfelt 10-song thank you letter to God for bringing him back from the edge of darkness into His marvelous light. Downing co-wrote nine of the songs, and you will get a nice mix of mellow grooves, slow jams, mid-tempo songs and of course, tracks that will make you feel that you are right there in church on a Sunday.
Review – The Promise by Will Downing
The album kicks off with Take It To The Cross. Immediately you will feel like you just arrived in church after hearing those initial piano and organ hits. If you need a track to get you going in the morning, this may be the one to do it. This song has it all, the message, the tight background vocals, then about halfway through, you get the sax solo with none other than Kirk Whalum. It does not get any better than that.
If you like your inspirational songs really groovy, then Look At Yourself (In The Mirror) will be the song that will be stuck on repeat. Here, it is a give and take between the lead and backing vocals, almost in a Luther Vandross style. There is nothing wrong with that!
Up next is I Hear A Voice. To me, this has the best of both worlds. The groove is unmistakably R&B and you will definitely “hear the spirit” in the message. I can certainly imagine a dancefloor full of couples showing out as they are steppin’, along with smiles on their faces.
Perhaps the most heartfelt offering in the set is You Blessed My Life. This is a slow jam, and it has all of the elements of a great song. In the first verse, you can hear all of the individual instruments, the second verse they all come together, a great sounding bridge about two-thirds of the way through, and a crescendo as he closes out the song. This is one that leaves you wanting more. I can see this as the closing song at a Will Downing concert.
Downing picks up the pace again with He Will Be There. This is another track where the organ and piano takes center stage. Downing’s vocal performance sits right in the middle of the groove and he makes it really easy for you to sing along with the lyrics.
What Would I Do gives us a nice funky groove, as the bassline will immediately catch your attention. I love the rhythm guitar during the breakdown, and if R&B radio does not immediately jump on this, there’s something really wrong!
God Is So Amazing is interesting on a couple of fronts. First off, the song originally appeared on the After Tonight release which was begun just before and continued just after the polymyositis diagnosis. Second, the original version of God Is So Amazing was recorded in determined fashion from a hospital bed. With a backstory like that, it is difficult not to love the song.
God Will Show You The Way and Shout (A Celebration Of Life) are two more uptempo songs that continue that joyful noise that Will is serving up on this project.
The Promise concludes with Changed, a duet with Regina Belle. After listening to this track, I have an important question. Why can’t we have more duets with these two? Man, their voices mesh really well together. One more thing. The fact that this is the last track is also a shrewd move. You listen to the album, and all is good. Then you hear this song, and it is like you just found a hidden gem.
The Promise is a great album to add to your playlist, as it has several things going for it. First, we all can use some new Inspirational music in our lives. Second, while it is Inspirational, it has a R&B sensibility to it, so even the casual fan will enjoy the music. Third, it is Will Downing, so you gotta love that.
You can listen to this, and all of Will’s music on your favorite streaming service.