It’s been 10 years since Sade released the masterful Lovers Rock, but listeners could be forgiven for assuming that its follow-up, Soldier Of Love, was recorded days or weeks after that Grammy-winning triumph: The new disc picks up exactly where its predecessor left off. Lead singer Sade Adu once again proves a master of subtle seduction and a genius at understated sexuality. An album of hushed intensity and powerful quiet, Soldier sometimes feels like one long, open, organic, ferociously soothing groove, so deviations tend to stand out, like the martial drums on the title track, the moody trip-hop textures of “Be That Easy,” or the disarming sweetness of “Babyfather,” the album’s apex and the closest the album comes to a knockout single like Lovers Rock’s sublime “By Your Side.” Lyrically, Adu remains monomaniacally fixated on affairs of the heart; beneath the silky, sultry romanticism lies a deep undercurrent of melancholy and sadness rooted in the hard-won knowledge that pain and pleasure are inextricably linked when it comes to the tricky business of falling in and out of love. Soldier benefits from a divine sense of intimacy; Sade seems to be whispering secret thoughts directly into the listener’s ears. Don’t expect Auto-Tune or a guest verse from Young Jeezy on Adu’s triumphant return: She doesn’t need to change with the times when she makes timeless music.
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