After 10 years, English Nigerian songstress Helen Folasade Adu has returned with a CD of mellow, rhythmic songs for lovers to sway to. Sade has been enthralling audiences with her quiet style since 1984, when she and her fellow band members released the album ‘Diamond Life. Bossa Nova meets jazz, the sound embodied every smoky club from every film noir. She followed with an album every few years, each one a hit until 1992’s Love Deluxe. After that album, she slipped away and didn’t come back until Lover’s Rock in 2000. And after that? Well, ‘Soldier of Love’ is our first look at her since then.
Back in the 80’s, the group’s lovely young front-woman quickly became a style icon without even trying. Her look was simple, elegant, and timeless: hoop earrings, red lips, understated eyes with a defined brow, and the ponytail. Although there have been times when she’s let her hair down, cascading in waves or tumbled curls, it was always the ponytail that brought her to mind. An indelible image. She’s stayed true to her ‘brand’ because she was always true to herself. No religious fads or public breakdowns. Just a calm, self-assured woman with her own style.
Her new album continues the tradition of songs that once played, cannot be forgotten. They entwine themselves around you, insinuate themselves into your memory; not aggressively, but organically. ‘Soldier of Love’, the title track, is danceable but it also soothing. I love the Kool Moe Dee reference, a little grit in the silk. ‘Be That Easy’ has a country/blues twang, almost a gospel feel. Every track is a Valentine’s Day classic, and I can see countless newlyweds making ‘Moon and Stars’ their first dance. Sade’s simple magic continues to cast its spell.