Sade “Soldier of Love”

Sade - Soldier of Love

I didn’t know what to expect when assigned Sade’s Soldier of Love. I know very little of R&B, and even less of Sade. Only how to pronounce her name properly, (that’s “sharday” everybody) and also that she’d been atop of the Billboard charts for the last three weeks. The reviews I read all applauded her expressive timelessness, worldliness, and ignorance of Kanye West (see Newsweek).

But such reviews aren’t necessary for one to realise her lush distinctiveness, even for these amateur ears. From the outset, Soldier of Love gives the myth-like sense of a genre that was, and a genre that could be. The realm of pop, overall, is dominated fleetingly by a succession of deluded brash bitches-in-heels, lyrically screeching for attention, but Sade is from another realm, and Soldier of Love proves this easily. Her vocals are sultry and smooth and her lyrics are nuanced, as are the multi-instrumental orchestrations of her long-time backing band.

As suggested in the album title, these are songs about love. She’s not just a soldier, but a veteran of love: waging such militant determination, which the title track declares. Just listen to that drumbeat, bearing lyrics like “I’ve lost the use of my heart, but I’m still alive…” Add this to the cover art, which has Sade overlooking a dark, apparently Mayan landscape, and you have an ideal narrative for the heartbroken listener. Something beautiful has died, but the heroine is pushing on. But it’s hard to say if there is any personal reality in this: Sade, now 51 (contender for hottest middle-aged female?), is notorious for her reclusiveness.

It’s this quietness that fuels Sade’s mysterious appeal. The last album she released was nearly a decade ago, and each release has been critically admired, if not acclaimed. Anyway, whether or not she is a heroine of lost love, she articulately tells stories of our bittersweet desires. The album moves from Soldier of Love’s toughness to more melancholy tunes like Skin, with soft keys over a minimal click-drum, where she sighs “Now that I begin, to wash you off my skin…” This song also comes complete with a sweet reference to Michael Jackson, “…back in the day”.

Admittedly, the energy of the album does descend from the title track, into slower ballads and lullabies, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sade’s voice carries that seductiveness, making it especially prone to high rotation in the moonlit hours. And who knows, if you’re sharing those hours with someone, Soldier of Love might set just the mood you need.

2 Comments

  1. fiona says:

    Nice :)

  2. I didn’t even finish reading the review but I so agree with your review of Sade’s voice and beautiful delivery. It doesn’t matter that there haven’t been an abundance of albums from this wonderful lady. The ones she has given the world are worth the wait. Awesome!!!

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