Sunday, December 13, 2009

BACK WITH A HEART

"I've lost the use of my heart/But I'm still alive." And just like that, with those opening lines of her new single, "Soldier Of Love," Sade ends her nearly 10-year silence. "I'm at the borderline of my faith/I'm in the hinterland of my devotion," she continues a few couplets later. This, obviously, is no ordinary song about love deluxe.

It's a tough balancing act, evolving while staying true to yourself, and Sade manoeuvers the tightrope expertly on "Soldier Of Love," the title track from her first album in 10 years, due February 8. The single is a natural progression from 2000's Lovers Rock, which itself was a move away from the jazz-inflected R&B with which Sade first made her mark into moodier, occasionally more experimental territory. Cinematic in musical and lyrical scope, it's a soundtrack for the love story of a hopeless, helpless romantic, bruised and bloodied on the battlefield but still not down for the count.

This time around, the band has added a bit more thunder and lightning to its quiet storm: A shuffling, marching drum beat creates an unsettled mood, while buzzing electro riffs bring the sound into the 2010's. Topping it all off is that voice, cool, calm and collected as ever, until 2:01, when for perhaps the first time ever, it finally reaches the shouting stage.

In unrelated news, my brother Alexi, whose taste in music is as sophisticated as that of anyone I know, called me today with a disturbing point of view. Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," he said, is the best pop song he's heard all year! What's that on the horizon? Hello, apocalypse!
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