February 16, 2010 | 11:45am
The Hype: There has been plenty of noise surrounding Sade's latest album. Exactly what you would expect after 10 years of waiting for something new from this English group of smooth soul experts? Add that to the fact their sultry vocalist, Sade Adu, is the most successful female solo artist in British history and, uh, yeah---this album is a big deal. Obviously big enough for the act to be included in the run of Coachella rumors.
The Judgement: After a solid decade of lusty, flash-in-the-pan pop tarts overwhelming the R&B charts, the last thing Sade fans needed was for the band to make an attempt to stay "current." Luckily, their new album Soldier of Love (released Feb. 8 on Sony) is a 10 track gem of nuanced R&B instrumentation, a delicate balance of pleasure and pain, which as potent as ever.
Icy, pensive vocals permeate the bulk of the album. From the acoustic guitar-tinged opener "The Moon and the Sky" to the taut, head bobbing title track, Adu's knack for haunting hooks wash perfectly over the sparse, tasteful gestures of guitarist/saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, bassist Paul Denman, keyboardist Andrew Hale and session drummer Pete Lewinson.
While some numbers, like "Morning Bird" and "Long Hard Road," carry the same sentiments of restraint and sorrow found on 90's classics like Love Deluxe or Stronger Than Pride, hints of reggae on the song "Babyfather" (featuring vocals by Adu's daughter, IIa) are a refreshing bit of sunlight on the album, displaying another side of Sade's signature sound. Same goes for the meandering, country-strumming on "Be That Easy."
It seems fitting that the band would end their long awaited album with the track "the Safest Place," which finds Adu singing, "My heart has been a lonely warrior, who's been to war before." After years of wandering, we're glad to see them return to conquer a new decade with their soulful weaponry still intact.
Download These: "Soldier of Love," "Babyfather," "Skin"