As the adult pop corner of the music world continues to flex its muscle with recent smash hit albums from Susan Boyle, Michael Buble, and Barbra Streisand, it is the perfect moment to welcome back the mature, elegant, and smoky sound of Sade. The band, centered around lead vocalist Sade Adu, has not released new studio material since 2000's Grammy Award winning Lovers Rock. However, the first time you hear the new Soldier of Love, it sounds like the band never left. There are enough subtle changes in sound to keep the group contemporary, but every track is distinctively Sade.
An Album To Get Lost In
Sade creates albums that encourage you to get lost in while listening. Slow, languid beats fade into one another. Lead vocalist Sade Adu wraps her slightly smoky voice around the notes pulling them out until they fade into the distance. Lyrically, most of the songs are about some form of current heartbreak or impending heartbreak. However, the instrumental textures, with a touch of R&B, a touch of Jazz, and pop song structure, wipe away the tears like incessant waves lapping at the shore. Soldier of Love will provide a perfect background for a romantic evening or dinner by candlelight while also being music which is rewarding for close listening and private reverie.
There are flourishes here that will be pleasing to mainstream pop fans. The title song "Soldier of Love" is propelled forward by a stunning rhythmic structure that will dare your body to move. "Babyfather" rides along on the crest of a gentle Caribbean style lilt. There is a hint of sadness, but the song would fit well along most current hits on contemporary pop radio. In more than 25 years of appearances on the US pop charts, the band only has two top 10 hits to their credit. However, given a bit of attention from pop radio programmers, one of the songs here could be a breakthrough.
Top Tracks on 'Soldier of Love'
- "Soldier of Love"
- "Morning Bird"
- "In Another Time"
Stellar Consistency Nearly Three Decades On
Sade have been a band of stunning consistency in the studio since the release of their first album Diamond Life in 1984. The result is that Soldier of Love will be their eighth consecutive top 10 chart success encompassing all of their albums. The danger of creating a sound so distinctive and keyed to a slow, simmering style is that boredom could set in for the listener. However, Soldier of Love is a perfect example of how to avoid that problem. Beat structure varies from the incessant dance-oriented beats of the song "Soldier of Love" to the waltz tempo of "Be That Easy" and slow sway of "In Another Time." There is also an emotional pitch perfection here that slowly sinks in. Sade hold you on the edge of utter heartbreak but never quite let the listener fall into the abyss. Each track picks the band's audience back up moving them forward through melancholy while surrounded by arresting beauty. At its most transcendent moments Soldier of Love deftly balances an audio world swaying in a blue haze with the gentle punctuation of Sade Adu's smoldering voice.
Released February 2010 by Sony.