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Album Review

When Sade Adu debuted with the smoky, sophisticated "Smooth Operator" 25 years ago, it was unlike anything else in pop music. The Nigerian-born singer, who grew up in Great Britain, exuded mystery and hinted at vast heartache.

Little has changed with her or her band (which bears her name). Despite releasing albums at long intervals—the last, Lover's Rock, came out 10 years ago—Sade's unique blend of R&B, jazz and reggae continues to plumb the depths of love found … and lost.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

The album's title track imagines love as a battlefield ("I'm a soldier of love/ … I've been torn up inside/ … I have the will to survive") populated by romantic "soldiers" whose faith will ultimately be rewarded ("I am lost but I don't doubt/ … I know that love will come"). "Long Hard Road" sifts a sliver of hope out of heartbreak. Likewise, "In Another Time" admonishes brokenhearted young women, "In another time, girl/Your tears won't leave a trace."

"Babyfather" bottles the love a father has for his son ("For you, child/He has the troops and extra backup standing by/For you, child/For you he's the best he can be"). "Be That Easy" explores a woman's astonishment at unexpectedly receiving love from a kind man. And on "Safest Place," a relationship-scarred woman assures her man that her losses have, paradoxically, made her heart a safe place for his love.

The angst-filled "Bring Me Home" sounds at times like the prayer of prodigal. "I've cried for the lives I've lost," Sade sings, "Like a child in need of love/I've been so close but far away from God/ … Bring me home."

Objectionable Content

"Babyfather" describes how instant chemistry between two strangers led to (implied) sex and a baby: "She liked his eyes, she wanted more/The baby gonna have your smile for sure/ … She saw him looking, acted like she didn't care/That's how we knew/And so love grew a flower."

Violent imagery in "Bring Me Home" suggests that a woman has despaired almost to the point of death ("Put me on a plate with petals and a fire/And send me out to sea/Turn my angry sword against my heart/And let me free/ … Send me to the slaughter"). "In Another Time" hints at beer-drinking cads ("They'll mean nothing to you/You'll fall into their brew").

"The Moon and the Sky," "Morning Bird" and "Skin" aren't objectionable, per se, but they express the laments of a woman who's inconsolable following a cherished man's departure. "How could you/You are the morning bird/Who sang me into life every day/Fly away," Sade sings on "Morning Bird." "There's nowhere I can find peace/And the silence won't cease/ … The ghost of my joy/Won't let me be."

The album cover, which we've cropped, exposes most of Sade's bare back.

Summary Advisory

Martinis and cigarettes and long hours at a melancholy bar. Listening to Sade somehow evokes that kind of atmosphere. Her songs feel like the stuff you'd hear in some anonymous, dimly lit jazz club … 40 or 50 years ago. Such is the strangely forlorn spell her songs weave.

What's funny about Sade, though, is that her hopeful lyrics actually outnumber her problematic ones. And there's nary a whiff of smoke or slowly shaken martini to be found in them, either. So why did this album leave me feeling so down?

I think it's because even the happy songs feel sad. And the sad songs, well, they're especially sad. It's like Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield puts it: "Soldier is sumptuously melancholy, exquisitely beautiful R&B, perfect for crying on a very expensive sofa."

Plot Summary

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Sade's sixth studio album debuted at No. 1 with strong first-week sales of 502,000 units.

Record Label





February 9, 2010

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

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