Ranking the Best Deborah Cox Albums

If you’re a longtime lurker here at Soul In Stereo, you probably know how much I love Deborah Cox.

Well, not LOVE love. I mean not anymore. Sorta.

Ah, Deborah. Back during her “Sentimental” days in the mid-90s, I dubbed her my officially unofficial pretend baby momma, due to her flawless beauty (just LOOK at her debut album cover! Angelic!) and equally flawless vocals.

By the late 90s, when she hit her record-breaking stride when “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” smashed the Billboard charts to smithereens, my appreciation grew much deeper. By the end of the decade, I believed she was one of the most formidable talents in the game, and she had the hits to prove it.

By popular demand, let’s look back at the career of one of my all-time favorite R&B voices. You know how we do – the following rankings were determined by album quality, consistency, and impact.

With her new single “Easy Way” slowly climbing the charts, I think we’re finally due for yet another great album. In the meantime, let’s revisit the greats.

5. The Morning After (2002)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: I was incredibly excited for Debroah’s 2002 comeback album, and a lot of that is courtesy of “Up & Down.” Shout out to the Music Choice cable channel, they wore that one out and I loved every second of it. The album itself, though, was a bit hit and miss – barreling out of the gate with a very strong first half but losing steam by the tail end. A couple non-“Up & Down” uptempo cuts felt a little formulaic but when Deborah went back into ballad mode, it was all good again.

Forgotten favorites: “Play Your Part,” “2 Good 2 Be True,” “Hurt so Much”

4. The Promise (2008)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Although I still stand by the score, going back to read my original review of Deborah’s final album felt weird – I seemed a lot more salty about the project than the rating reflected. Don’t mind ol’ 2008 Edd, he didn’t have Disney+ reruns of Darkwing Duck to mellow him out. The Promise holds up pretty well today, filled with lots of little gems that showcase Deborah’s fantastic voice and sonic diversity. I’ll be revisiting this one soon.

Forgotten favorites: “Where Do We Go 2,” “Did You Ever Love Me,” “Beautiful U R”

3. Destination Moon (2007)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: OK, now this was an interesting project. After a half-decade hiatus, Deborah returned to the scene with a tribute album to jazz pioneer Dinah Washington. I’ll admit at the time that I was only vaguely familiar with Dinah’s career but that’s the powerful thing about music – it can truly open doors to greater appreciation. Destination Moon is more of a jazz record than Deborah’s trademark R&B sound but it works so well. Much of that credit has to go to the 40-piece orchestra that accompanied her live vocals. It’s an incredible tribute to an incredible artist, one that made me a legit fan of Dinah Washington’s work. Obviously this one is an acquired taste that won’t appeal to all R&B fans but it’s a masterclass in musical evolution.

Forgotten favorites: “Destination Moon,” “This Bitter Earth,” “What a Difference a Day Makes”

2. Deborah Cox (1995)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw the video for “Sentimental” – sitting on my grandma’s sofa in the den with the fuzzy pink carpet. Only a song that good could leave an impression – and such vivid memories – decades later. Deborah’s debut proved she was more than just one hot song though. Filled with stirring performances and great writing, Deborah quickly made her mark as one of the breakout voices in the new era of R&B. It may have been a little ballad heavy at times and some of the midtempo offerings could be uneven but no matter – it’s a star-making release from a woman destined for greater heights.

Forgotten favorites: “Sound of my Tears,” “My First Night With You,” “Where Do We Go From Here”

1. One Wish (1998)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: The line between One Wish and Deborah’s debut is razor thin. Catch me on a different day of the week and I might change my mind. But as of today, not only does One Wish shatter the sophomore slump theory, it reigns as her best work. It’s a tight mix of midtempo records and barn-burning ballads that boasts a slightly better balance than her debut. Also, it has the advantage of housing several of Deborah’s signature hits as well as her most beloved album cuts. There is no such thing as a bad Deborah Cox project, but this one outshines them all.

Forgotten favorites: “September,” “I Never Knew,” “Love Is on the Way”

Are you a One Wish stan or is the debut more for you? Destination Moon win you over? Talk about that and more below.

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2 Comments

  1. Please do a ranking a ranking of maxwell albums .. He’s such an important voice in r&B

  2. I love Destination Moon

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