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Sade: Soldier of Love

Track List

>Moon and the Sky, The
>Soldier of Love
>Morning Bird
>Babyfather - (featuring Clay Matthewman)
>Long Hard Road - (featuring Juan Janes)
>Be That Easy
>Bring Me Home
>In Another Time
>Safest Place, The

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

2010 release, the sultry Pop/Jazz vocalist's first album since the multi-platinum Lovers Rock in 2000. Soldier Of Love was recorded in England and produced by the band and their longtime collaborator Mike Pela. Since the release of their debut album, the band has seen all five of their studio albums land in the Top 10 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart, selling a total of more than 50 million worldwide to date. They've been nominated for American Music Awards, MT V Video Music Awards and have won three Grammy Awards. The first single 'Soldier Of Love', features a pulsating and anthemic drum beat along with haunting vocals that Sade is known for.

"She's a virtual recluse, refuses to give interviews, and releases albums rarely: in some ways, Sade is the Kate Bush of mellow soul, or M.O.RnB if you will. Soldier of Love is her first album since 2000's Lovers Rock, and it is hardly less feverishly anticipated than Bush's last opus, maybe more so in America, where she has a better rep - in Britain she is often dismissed as dinner party jazzy soul muzak.

Immaculately produced, Sade's albums to date have oozed class and sophistication, although seemingly offering variations on a single theme. But such consistency of tone is deceptive. It would be easy, and wrong, to accuse Sade of sterility and concealing feelings beneath a veneer of unflappable hauteur. Scrutiny of her work reveals moments of serene candour and breathtaking intimacy - I Never Thought I'd See the Day, her best song, from 1988's Stronger Than Pride, has plenty in common with Portishead.

Unfortunately, there's nothing quite that unexpected on Soldier of Love. In fact, just when it seemed like the ideal opportunity to proclaim her a musician of rare idiosyncratic wonder, she delivers an album that denies a passionate response. Recorded with the old team of Stuart Matthewman, Paul Denman and Andrew Hale at Peter Gabriel's Real World studio, this sixth album illustrates the dilemma of the long-term artist: whether to alienate fans with a radical departure or risk the charge of repetition.

The title song is the least Sade-like track here - with its metallic, shiny martial beat not far from trip hop/Tricky territory, it's the toughest-sounding thing she's ever done, though the lyric posits the idea of the relationship as battleground, a notion as predictable as the chord sequence. Sade was always better as a mood creator than philosopher, but even so banal couplets abound. "It couldn't be that easy / It had to be much harder," she trills on Be That Easy, a foray into spectral country.

There is gospel organ (Be That Easy) and a mid-tempo reggae-ish gait on Babyfather, but mostly Soldier of Love is as mournfully one-paced as previous Sade albums, with the same attention to texture and surface lustre but, alas, not to melody or moving autobiography. This could have been the grown-up Back to Black, as ravishing and revelatory as Winehouse's great achievement. But instead it finds Sade keeping her distance and retaining her mystique, apparently more for her benefit than ours." - BBC

"There is a certain dignity about a pop star sitting pretty on a skyline of cash, not troubling the world with sub-par music. Sade Adu made a fortune - entirely deserved - with her colossally successful 1980s output and the royalties continue to roll in for this British soul singer who remains a rarity in having cracked America wide open.

Sade broke cover briefly in 2000 to release a respectable album, Lovers Rock, tucked away an OBE in 2002 and then went to ground. She isn't often spoken of in the same breath as Kate Bush, but both 80s idols share that most un-80s quality: reserve.

They know something about quality control, too. The relative paucity of Sade records - six albums in 26 years - points to an effort to retain standards. It was all too easy, 20-odd years ago, to pillory Sade for the ease and plushness of her sound, a jazz-soul-pop linctus concerned exclusively with love. Her breakthrough album was called, without one scintilla of irony, Diamond Life. And yet, there was always something riveting about the understatement of her velvet vocals, so unlike the overemotive ululating that passes for singerly greatness. Sade's effortless songwriting demanded respect in a way that, say, Whitney Houston's never could.

It comes as some surprise, then, to hear Sade loosing up-to-the-minute martial beats on the title track of her new album, Soldier of Love. The video finds the 51-year-old in a spangly catsuit, swinging a lasso over a smoking wasteland. Succinct, masterful and adventurous, "Soldier... " sounds unequivocally like vintage hoop-earring Sade while knocking preconceptions over like ninepins.

The remaining nine tracks on her sixth album can't quite match it for shock value. They glide by elegantly, registering subtle variations. Minor aberration number two is "Baby Father", a gentle, reggae-tinged confection apparently extolling the constancy of paternal love. It's in marked contrast to the wounded bittersweetness of the remainder of the tracklist, in which failed relationships are picked over with a mixture of forensic science and sonic balm.

It all gets a little too cosy on "In Another Time" a waltz-time slog that marshals piano and muted saxophone. But Sade's consolatory vocal makes even this slush bearable." - Gaurdian

Soldier of Love is the sixth studio album by the English group Sade. It is their first album of original material since Lovers Rock (2000). The album was initially released on 5 February 2010 in Germany, and it was released worldwide on 8 February 2010 and in the United States on 9 February 2010. The first single "Soldier of Love" premiered on 8 December 2009 on the group's official website.

The album debuted at number four on the UK Albums Chart, becoming their highest debut since Stronger Than Pride (1988). It also debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 502,000 copies in the United States, making it Sade's first US number-one debut, and topped music charts in several other countries. Upon its release, Soldier of Love received generally positive reviews from most music critics.

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (p.58) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[A] flawless collection of glossy Anglo-soul torch songs....SOLDIER sustains the mellow vibe for the whole album..."

Entertainment Weekly (p.106) - "[The album] sticks faithfully to the lush quiet-storm sound that's influenced younger artists from Maxwell to Everything but the Girl." -- Grade: A

Paste (magazine) (p.64) - "SOLDIER OF LOVE is Sade's most musically ambitious, and it's also its most forlorn, its most heartbroken....An intense melancholy pervades these songs..."

Album Notes

Personnel: Sade Adu (vocals, programming); Stuart Matthewman (guitar, saxophone, programming); Andrew Hale (keyboards, programming).

Audio Mixer: Mike Pela.

Recording information: El Cortijo, Spain; Realworld Studios UK.

Photographer: Sophie Muller.

Sade's longest absence yet did not prevent their return from being an event. It at least seemed eventful whenever "Soldier of Love," released to radio a couple months prior to the album of the same title, was heard over the airwaves. Even with its brilliantly placed lyrical allusions to hip-hop past and present and its mature sound, the single stuck out on stations aimed at teens and twentysomethings, as well as points on the dial that court an older audience. It was the most musical and organic, while also the most dramatic yet least bombastic, song in rotation. Crisp snare rolls, cold guitar stabs, and at least a dozen other elements were deployed with tremendous economy, suspensefully ricocheting off one another as Sade Adu rewrote "Love Is a Battlefield" with scarred, assured defiance. While the song was an indication of its parent album's reliance upon organic instrumentation -- the band's use of synthesized textures and programming is greatly diminished -- it merely hinted at the dark, even fatalist, depth of heartache conveyed throughout the set. On "Bring Me Home," Adu is content in resignation ("Send me to slaughter/Lay me on the railway line"), while on "The Moon and the Sky," she projects a bruised and angered bewilderment ("You lay me down and left me for the lions"). The focus at least switches temporarily to a loved one on "In Another Time," in what resembles a love letter to (what is likely) a young daughter mistreated by members of both sexes ("Their whispers are hailstones in your face"; "Soon they'll mean nothing to you"). The bleakness is tempered with themes of survival and recovery, and a song that is truly sweet ("Babyfather"). Relatable most to those who are experiencing solitude created by romantic desertion, this is not your mother's Sade album. ~ Andy Kellman


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