Soldier of Love, Sade‘s first studio album in over ten years, comes sandwiched in between two rather auspiciously timed events: heavy blizzards and Valentine’s Day. What else should be softly playing in the background than the warm, romantic layers of a Sade record?
The musical influences found on this record stretch far across genres and countries–from the aching piano balladry of “Morning Bird,” to the reggae-tinged melodies of “Babyfather” and country twang of “Be That Easy,” to the undefinable surprise in songs like “Bring Me Home,” which waltzes between a modern hip-hop groove, a pensive guitar strum, solemn chants and deep hums.
As she touches on throughout the album with the soldier motif, Sade Adu has been through plenty in the past few years: “My heart has been a lonely warrior before” she notes in the album’s final few seconds on “The Safest Place.” There’s hurt, there’s sorrow, there’s love and pain. But above all, there are stories that transcend conventional radio-ready pop tales. As Sade notes of this new release, “I only make records when I feel I have something to say. I’m not interested in releasing music just for the sake of selling something. Sade is not a brand.”
More often, Sade’s icy vocals are merged with the sweetest of sounds as with “Skin,” one of the slinkiest numbers. “Now as I begin to wash you off my skin / I’m gonna peel you away / ‘Cause you’re not right within,” Adu sadly coos as the smooth, creamy texture of the track washes in and out of the stratosphere.
Sensual. Devastating. Searching, Inspiring. Each track of the album carries its own wide array of emotion and sound, neither contemporary nor classic, reminding us that good music–true, real music, will always withstand the test of time.
While we may not hear from the band for another ten years (please don’t do it again!), Sade have granted us a record in Soldier of Love that stands to fend for itself and march forward for years to come.