In the past eight years, many talented female artists have topped the music charts. Some, although young, have overwhelmed us with extraordinary vocal ability, while others have shocked us with daring lyrics and punchy dance rhythms. Regardless of style or ability, today’s female artist faces the challenge of not only selling CDs, but also establishing herself as a viable commodity worthy of future investment. Unfortunately, when taking time away from the public to create and/or recuperate, many lose touch with their audience and are no longer sought after. Such is not the case for Sade Adu. Ever since Sade’s last hit in 1993, she continued to hold a dust-free space in many of her listener’s music collections. Finally such a vacancy can be filled with her latest project, Lovers Rock.
Sade and her faithful crew present their familiar relaxed tones and dedication to live instrumentation in the first single “By Your Side”. This song’s country rhythm may cause R&B supporters to hesitate, but her soft, controlled vocals have a subtle way of luring you away from the rhythm and closer to the melody.
Hip-hop fans will bob their heads to the beats used on “Immigrant” and “Flow”. In fact, Sade conducts both songs like a hip-hop MC. Don’t be afraid; she doesn’t resort to rapping. Her vocals ride the beats with precision as she delves into social issues.
As on previous projects, Sade is both vocally shy and lyrically bold. On “Slave Song” she sings, “The tears run swift and hard and cold as pain / Even the comfort of a stone would be a gain / Had I not the strength and wisdom of a warrior / I would have to give up / But I’m thankful that I’m as I am”. Whatever her experiences, they have had a profound influence on her lyrical and musical mood. Although somber, her demeanor is definitely complimented by this song’s reggae vibe.
Baby boomers often contend that today’s music lacks passion and depth. However, on tracks such as “Somebody Already Broke My Heart” and “King of Sorrow”, Sade proves that her soul-searching homework was done. Her words are heart-felt and convincing. On the title track, “Lovers Rock” (named after a style of reggae), a tranquil, intimate setting was created for lovers to enjoy.
New and old listeners will not be disappointed by this project. Although many of the tracks have similar tempos, Sade’s style and finesse will always be unmatched. There aren’t many artists who could leave their fans hanging like a ditched prom date and come back to open arms. But Sade has proven that dedication to quality and not quantity is the essential ingredient to longevity.
// Notes from the Road
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