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Sade ‘Soldiers’ On With Sixth Album

SadeNotoriously reclusive British quartet Sade, led by singer-songwriter Sade Adu, may have taken a decade-long break between releasing albums, but their labored approach to recording music has paid off. Last night, Epic Records held an exclusive listening party for the band’s sixth album ‘Soldier of Love,’ a diverse collection of tracks threaded together by Adu’s mysteriously engaging vocals and the group’s relaxed compositions.

“No songs were written ahead of time,” explained guitarist Stuart Matthewman in a previously-recorded statement played before the album. “That’s why it takes so long … All of the band members live on different continents,” he added before studio footage of the group recording the album and behind-the-scenes clips from the set for the ‘Soldier of Love’ music video were shown.

Though the band admits to having struggled during the recording sessions, ‘Soldier of Love’ is much creamier and calmer than their concerted efforts would suggest. With ten tracks spread over 45 minutes, the album incorporates livelier, more hip-hop inflected rhythms into the band’s previous sound. Kicking off with the syrupy jam ‘The Moon and the Sky,’ ‘Soldier of Love’ immediately sets the smooth tone by recalling the low-calorie hue of ’90s R&B, with Sade cooing, “You could have let me love anyone” and “Why didn’t you come get me last time?”

After the six-minute version of lead single ‘Soldier of Love,’ the group pulls back on the instrumental reigns and lets the album breathe with ‘Morning Bird,’ a track built on a lingering piano melody, emphatic kick drum and sporadic tambourine. “You are the blood of me,” Sade whispers before kicking her vocals up an octave. “How could you? You are the river/I told this life, how could you/You are the morning day, you sang me into life.”

On the rest of the album, the group dabbles in brighter fare (the hip-hop-tinged ‘Babyfather’ and spaghetti Western-inspired ‘Be That Easy’), but they also include songs performed in the classic lounge style that put them on the map back when they debuted in 1984. ‘Skin’ is supple and sultry with its vague, buried vocals that whisper, “I love you so/Sometimes love has to let go,” while ‘Bring Me Home’ boasts acid drum hits as Sade moans, “Let the tide take me/I won’t fight, I’ve cried the tears.”

‘Soldier of Love’ ends on a mellow note with ‘The Safest Place,’ resting on a comfortable groove complete with cellos, spidery acoustic guitar plucks and a string section. It’s a smoky, victorious conclusion to the album, conveying the group as complacent and placid as they’ve ever been.

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