There is optimism within the title of Ruthie Foster's Promise of a Brand New Day, an optimism that's reflected in the music itself. Some of this brightness may be due to Foster's decision to have Meshell Ndegeocello produce this 2014 album, giving the neo-soul singer free rein to hire musicians and choose final takes, but Ndegeocello is hardly imposing her own attitude on Foster. Instead, she focuses on the soulful, kind vibe emanating from Foster, a feeling that infuses the message tunes and songs of love that comprise Promise. Often, the record veers ever so slightly to soul over gospel or blues -- something that's perhaps inevitable when William Bell collaborates on "It Might Not Be Right," a song that harks back to the classic Memphis sound. A few other songs on Promise of a Brand New Day touch upon that groove, including the opening "Singing the Blues," while other cuts get a little bit harder and grittier ("Let Me Know," "Believe"), and Foster also has a bit of fun twisting old Dylan lyrics on "Outlaw." That playfulness is subtle, as are the stylistic hybrids, and that might be the best thing about this thoroughly winning record: Foster is wearing her open heart on her sleeve but she's never pushing too hard, never overselling her message; she's charming with her warmth and sly skill.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine