Monday, February 15, 2010


Sade enters their fourth decade of existence with a sixth studio album. And what an entrance! The group's distinct sound, precisely constructed to perforate the artifice of performance and directly convey the wages of the heart, seems to have an unusual resistance to mortality, existing beyond popular music trends; it is as if Sade have stepped outside of the aging process. Their sound is singular, their familiar style so strong that any one track feels as if it could have been recorded during any period of the group's history, a meaningful timelessness that allows minor renovations to feel like revelations.

The vocalist, born Helen Folasade Adu 51 years ago in Nigeria, sings with the same unhurried air she brought to her iconic debut, “Diamond Life,” but the low-key approach is deceptive. She may sound sultry, as if doing nothing more strenuous than a girl-from-Ipanema stroll on an exotic beach, but melancholy shrouds her every word. The opening tracks are unusually aggressive in calling for the listener’s attention: a guitar hook curls around the longing of “The Moon and the Sky” and a thumping martial beat underpins the title song. In the latter, the narrator straps on her helmet, a lonely sentinel waiting “for love to come and turn it all around.” One senses this won’t end well, and hope turns to mourning on the lovely “Morning Bird.” The music glides in its own unhurried space and time, occasionally tweaking other styles: a vague country vibe on “Be That Easy,” a spritz of reggae on “Babyfather,” a rolling trip-hop groove on “Bring Me Home,” slow-burn soul in “In Another Time.”

"Soldier of Love" is based entirely around a single staggering groove, a wounded stride anchored simply by a regular kick drum and delayed snare. Around this motif, and its unrelenting-yet-damaged steps, a song is gradually carved: a sensuous sculpture that refuses to congeal, an effect not unlike making out an uncertain shape by touch in total darkness. The crackling moments of sudden intensity that beset our travelers-- snapping martial snares, handclaps, guitars grinding in dirt one moment, quivering synthesizers the next, hints of flamenco guitar, sudden guitar distortion, a trumpet's clarion cutting above it all-- tease risk, sexuality, and relief from the groove's uncompromising continuity. Each sound disappears a moment later, a sensation or mirage, an elusive hint at the visage of an uncertain future. Of course, at its center is Sade Adu's incomparable voice, which sounds as passionately poised as it did on 1984's Diamond Life. And it is through her vocals that "Soldier of Love" becomes a long, treacherous caravan journey struck by sudden flashes of purpose-- skirmishes with the enemy, waiting "for love to come, turn it all around."

But mostly “Soldier of Love” presents Sade as a genre unto herself; after 25 years, she remains alluring and subtly rewarding, while still keeping the listener at a safe distance, as if she had even deeper secrets to guard.

Sade Soldier of Love Official Track listing:

1. The Moon and the Sky
2. Soldier of Love
3. Morning Bird
4. Baby Father
5. Long Hard Road
6. Be That Easy
7. Bring Me Home
8. In Another Time
9. Skin
10. The Safest Place

Written by DJ Big Mike of WOTC 107.7 Off Tha Chain Radio

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