Sade: Soldier of Love


RIYL: Everything But the Girl, Basia, Anita Baker

Sade’s been releasing babymaking music for so long that the kids who were conceived to the strains of their first single, “Your Love Is King,” are old enough to have children of their own. You’d think they’d have run out of ideas by now – or, at the very least, run out of people willing to purchase their albums – but Sade’s last release, 2000’s Lovers Rock, actually sold more than its predecessor, 1992’s Love Deluxe.

That kind of longevity has always been exceedingly rare in pop music, especially for acts who, like Sade, tend to take a decade or so between releases – but then again, most artists don’t enjoy the kind of cool consistency Sade has displayed over the course of its career. From a certain point of view, you could say that if you’ve heard one Sade album you’ve heard them all; it’s probably more accurate, though, to say that the members of the band know exactly which kind of music they were born to make, and they simply play to their artistic strengths more strongly than most.

Whichever way you look at it, Sade’s sixth studio album is a lot like the five that came before it: Plenty of languid R&B, heavy on the machine-driven beats and moody synths, topped off with a little sax, a little guitar, and a whole lot of Sade Adu’s coolly smoky vocals. She doesn’t look or sound like she’s aged a day since 1984, which is exactly what Sade fans want to hear – you don’t listen to this music looking for radical change, you turn to it for comfort, and to hear the sound of impeccably crafted, grown-up lust. (Seriously, Adu is 51? This woman cannot be human.)

That said, there is a bit of change afoot on Soldier of Love – but just a bit, and it’s most noticeable on the strutting title track, which finds Adu’s lithesome vocals wafting above a booming beat, stabbing rhythm guitars, and martial percussion samples. Though still recognizably Sade, it’s the equivalent of a more restless band changing genres completely, which might be why the rest of the album is much more in line with the group’s previous work. For most other artists, this would sound like creative drought; for Sade, it’s as comfortable as falling back into the sheets. Long may she moan. (Epic 2010)

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