Will Downing - The Promise (Advance Review)

Will Downing
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Will Downing - The Promise 

“Lord you see me through this and I promise I will give you all the honor, all the praise…wherever I go.” Will Downing

With his good looks, multiple musical gifts and a buttery baritone that's soothed souls, broken hearts and charmed fans for decades, Will Downing was already what many would consider 'blessed.' But when life's trajectory sends you spinning in an entirely different direction that no map or compass could prepare you for, your purpose and intentions with those 'blessings' can't help but to change as well. 

Will Downing - The Promise 

“Lord you see me through this and I promise I will give you all the honor, all the praise…wherever I go.” Will Downing

With his good looks, multiple musical gifts and a buttery baritone that's soothed souls, broken hearts and charmed fans for decades, Will Downing was already what many would consider 'blessed.' But when life's trajectory sends you spinning in an entirely different direction that no map or compass could prepare you for, your purpose and intentions with those 'blessings' can't help but to change as well. 

It was in the mid-2000s when the prolific and successful Downing found himself sidelined by polymyositis, an uncommon auto-immune disease characterized by muscle weakness and inflammation. Struggling with mobility, everyday functioning and even the ability to speak, much less sing, Downing kept his resolve as a man, a husband and father, fighting through years of therapy that witnessed his emergence from paralyzed in a hospital bed to rehabbing from a wheelchair. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and despair, Downing kept recording and creating through it all, praying and making a solemn vow to God that he would testify to His glory once he was healed. That's the reason for The Promise, Will's first-ever full gospel release and a buoyant profession of God's mercy, provision and grace. 

"My sickness has helped me change my priorities and taught me that life is not all about money and you find out what's really important," Downing once told Essence magazine, "family and love." That awareness and resolve, as well as his belief, is what's fueling the fervor behind original tracks like "Look At Yourself (In The Mirror)," an upbeat introspective cut that reminds folks to check their programs before He does it for them: "I know how and why, someone might stray/the temptations, the stimulations.....how does it feel inside?" Even as sanctity propels the messages -- with the introspective reckoning, "I Hear a Voice," for example, or the unabashed soon-to-become-a-standard "Take It To The Cross" -- Will Downing's signature style, and relatability, remains intact.   

Those who effectively reach listeners with their messages of faith and renewal know how to meet us on the road where we are, whether it's at the 'come-to-Jesus' fork in the road ("You Changed My Life"), rebuilding from brokenness ("What Would I Do,") or reveling in His mercy for waking you up yet another day ("God Is So Amazing," which originally appeared on the After Tonight album and was crafted while Downing recovered from the disease), a feat that Will readily accomplishes. Some lyrics are so personal, in fact, that they sound as if Downing tore them from tear-stained journals and headed right for the studio with its contents: "Have you ever laid awake at night, crying to God, 'please save my life and turn me around, turn me around'?" 

However, the one song that proves the fullness of Will Downing's comeback----from both a literal and Biblical sense----is "Changed," a duet with the ever-flawless Regina Belle: with strength and subtlety, Belle and Downing exalt the Holy Father and complement one another with separate life testimonies united by a single quest to illuminate and edify: "You are my God, I won't search anymore/my love is here, no matter where I have been before."

The Promise is a love letter to God and the culmination of a vow made by a man who faced---and fulfilled----his life's most daunting test. However, what Promise also signifies, according to Downing, is the power of faith. "I believe God spared me for a reason," he recently told Heart & Soul magazine, and we certainly believe it: probably because The Promise also feels like a gift to us too. Highly Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

Click Here to listen to The Promise

 
Video of the Month - Kea Michaels - "I Love You"
Album of the Month - Will Downing - The Promise
Featured Album - Candace Bellamy - Soul for the Season
Choice Cut - Kenya - "Favorite Things"

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