Sade, Soldier of Love

Sade, Soldier of Love

Clearly, my obsession with the mandolin and progressive rock drummers makes me the perfect person to review Soldier of Love, the latest release from English R&B artist Sade. It’s been 10 years since Sade’s last effort, and I assume a lot has changed in the world of R&B.  Even without a point of reference, you’d be right to wonder if music has left Sade behind and moved on to newer ideas. I mean, when’s the last time you logged onto AOL?

Soldier of Love , however, is a deceptively simple and well-crafted R&B album powered by the voice of Sade Adu.  Man, what a voice. At 51, Adu doesn’t feel the need to redefine her sound or turn Soldier of Love into a CD focused on her vocal dexterity. This knowledge is obvious throughout Soldier of Love, as Adu stays within a sweet spot that allows her to showcase the quality of her voice rather than her range.

To some, this approach might be too comfortable or, worse still, lazy. Really, though, what is there to complain about? That every note is too full and rich? That the hint of smokiness in her tenor-like voice is too good? No, instead Soldier of Love presents the listener with 10 tracks of what Sade does best.  Beyond the voice is Adu’s lyrical craftsmanship.  You get a sense that Soldier of Love is really about what Adu wants to say. Adu avoids the traps of overly forward or sometimes vulgar lyrics and instead weaves poetry that is both beautiful and relatable. It’s as if elaborate musical arrangements or over emphasis on Adu’s vocal abilities would hinder a deeper connection with the audience.

Each song is a unified message trying to evoke a certain emotion.  From the feelings of love at first sight in “Babyfather” to the  feelings of betrayal in “Morning Bird,” Sade’s music is full of empathy.  Better still is that the music partners brilliantly with the lyrics. It seems so simple, but often we hear weary and heart-broken lyrics overlaying bright and upbeat music. For Sade, the connection between art and audience must be the ultimate goal. How else could Solider of Love leave the listener thinking, “I get what they’re saying,” or, better still, “Sade gets how I feel”?

(Sony Music UK -- 9 Derry Street, London, W8 5HY ENGLAND; http://www.sonymusic.co.uk/; Sade -- http://www.sade.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Monday, May 31st, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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