"...near-perfection, "Promise" will forever be Sade's career-defining masterwork."
The silky-smooth, smokey and sensuous voice of Sade Adu rings true and clear and the smoldering brand of jazz and Latin-tinged soul are featured on Promise, Sade's second album. Released just nine months after Diamond Life, the 1984 Grammy award-winning Best New Artist continues the cool-cat jazz of their debut while exploring more exotic influences. Sade is hard to define. She is not quite jazz, not quite R&B, not quite pop, and not quite "easy listening." Sade the band really defies all attempts at categorization.
1985's Promise is a personal journey of a broken heart and a bruised soul. It bleeds with emotion, and it captivates the listener through its refined and understated grace. This album has a cohesiveness rather than just a collection of songs, there is a development of a theme here, and the songs of love and betrayal and just being a woman blend together into a whole. "The Sweetest Taboo," easily one of the group's signature songs, went on to be a huge hit and "Never as Good as the First Time" landed in both the R&B and pop Top 20. "Is It a Crime" was also released as a single. The unreleased tracks are also standouts, Sade doesn't just sing with instrumental accompaniament, she dialogs with the instruments, conversing and gossiping with them about the melancholy inhabitants of her songs: "Mister Wrong," "Jezebel,""Maureen" (you-were-a-pearl-in-my-world).
Promise became the band's first album to top the album charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States while matching its predecessor's quadruple platinum certification. Sade was once again the personification of cool, her sultry contralto is more assured and expressive. Sade's voice and the band's music create a foreboding atmosphere that is practically spellbinding. This album is gorgeous. Sade is a timeless singer who makes her mark with refreshing refinement and beauty.