Deborah Cox, The Promise
Deborah Cox has had a long career in mainstream, dancefloor-angled R&B. She was a backup singer for Whitney Houston before going solo, and the more ballad-y numbers on Promise (especially "Saying Goodbye") highlight this connection, with some ringing upper register acrobatics. It's impressive how much of the production here, though, is firmly contemporary: leadoff track "Love is Not Made For Words" could be a Ryan Leslie production for synth diva Cassie and "Down 4 U"'s slinky crunch would fit right in on a Ciara album. The perfect intersection of modern gloss and Cox's expressive vocals is found on "Did You Ever Love Me," an immediate album highlight.