the effort brings a promise of depth and potential yet untapped and
unventured by the widely acclaimed songstress.
back onto the charts with her first complete collection in eight
years, Nigerian-born Helen Folasade Adu (but you can call her
"Sade") renews her sedative powers with "Lovers
Rock." Being the first new complete collection from this Nubian
beauty in eight
press people claim the album is "deceptively simple," and
after a precursory listen, that has to be the understatement of the
year. Song after song at the beginning of the album flows from one
tear-jerking, sleep-inducing ballad into another. At one point, I
thought to myself "this is one long-ass song" only to
discover that the CD had played through two consecutive tracks.
first single is wisely chosen, as it is obviously the strong track
on the album. Sade's breathless and exquisite vocals that gave her
such critical acclaim in the mid-1980s ("Smooth Operator"
and "Sweetest Taboo" come to mind) are most applaudable on
this track, and fortunately, it's right at the beginning of the CD,
so aimless forwarding won't be a problem in getting to the
the other 9 or 10 tracks on the CD, her voice is often lost amid the
strange machinations of musical distortions. Guitar tracks that
warble back and forth on pitch and annoyingly repetitive bass and
percussion lines distract the listener from the real showcase: Sade's
additions on this album other than the lead-off single ("By
Your Side") are the more vocally centered tracks "King of
Sorrow" and "Slave Song." Though neither is comparable
(in terms of "pop" value) to her success of the mid-80s
with "Operator" or "Taboo," they each provide
eclectic and differing viewpoints of Sade's musicality.
"Sorrow" is yet another sad ballad, but her vocals move to
the forefront and carry the listener into her heart where she beckons
them to let her "cook you a soup that warms your soul."
Song" presents an entirely different image. Perhaps a statement
on the oppression of her people, the song is a collage of vocals
somewhat pasted together in melodic harmony. Most definitely a dark
sounding tune, the mere fact that the vocals conjure up startling
images with tremendous power and depth makes the song stand out. With
lyrics like "he who knows me not takes me to the belly of
darkness," it's hard not to sit up and take notice of the
message, at the very least. Thankfully, the message is delivered with
the sure calmness and levity embodied by Sade's amazing voice.
"Lovers Rock." For what it's worth, the song jumps out
immediately if only because you can actually snap a finger to it
without falling asleep between snaps. Sade's vocals are again the
dominant force, but the performance lacks the clarity or the power of
even the less groove-laden tracks. She certainly sounds pretty, but
the song fails to make good on the promise of its title. "You
are the lovers rock, the one I cling to" is a sentiment that
certainly seems to deserve more spirit and conviction than Sade
delivers here, and again the distorted orchestration and way too
bouncy percussion distracts from her vocal quality.
an attempt to appease those who fell in love with Sade's popular
sound of the mid-80s, "Every Word" captures the spirit and
tenacity of her major hits "Operator" and "Taboo,"
if nothing else. It's a melodic "hum-along" tune that
might otherwise go unnoticed. If "By Your Side" bombs
quickly, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see "Every Word"
step up to the plate as the second single (assuming there will be one).
brings me to the title
has come back to the charts after an eight year absence
final track on the album "It's Only Love that Gets You
Through" could be the most prophetic title on this roller-coaster
of promise and talent. You'll really need to be a Sade fan (in other
words, you'll need to "love" her) to make it through the
first 10 tracks, and even if you are a Sade-lover, bring a large
coffee along for the ride. You'll need it.
by Jim Jarrell
here to purchase any
of Sade's CDs from