Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Earth, Wind & Fire 

The Promise

Wednesday, May 28 2003
Comments
In the last couple of years, Earth, Wind & Fire caved in to the modern tides and recorded a hip hop project for Columbia Records with Wyclef Jean. But it felt too distant from the group's essence, and the project was scrapped. As a result, The Promise is the act's first album in six years, offered on EWF founder Maurice White's own Kalimba Records (the name is a reference to the band's love of the thumb piano).

Joyous without raising the hackles of cynicism, The Promise honors its vow of delivering songs of the consistent quality that EWF devotees knew were still inside original players Maurice and Verdine White and Philip Bailey. The musicians aren't creating from within a nostalgia bubble, though: They have an ear to the modern soul sound and a sharp-as-ever technical proficiency honed from constant touring. The band might even have listened to some current club sounds: The short instrumental interludes "Promise I" and "Promise II" and the closing tune "Dirty" incorporate the genre's cues about maintaining momentum.

While "All in the Way" was selected as the album's first single (it has landed on adult contemporary radio all over the country), "Wonderland" is the true shining star. Its title gives a nod to the group's 1979 smash "Boogie Wonderland," and like that hit, it features guest backup vocals from the Emotions (who lent their golden throats to another classic, 1981's "Let's Groove") in addition to a performance by new-generation R&B siren Angie Stone. Predictably, singer Bailey blesses every song that he's in, but his distinctive falsetto is perfect as it blends with the mellow tones of White and Gregory Curtis on the salsa-flavored "Never." Still timelessly beautiful, EWF is a pledge upon which we can bet.

About The Author

Tamara Palmer

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"