Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Sade – Soldier of Love

You can’t hurry smooove…


Chuck Eddy: Was half-enjoying soaking in this subtle groove on our local grown-folks r&b station– nodding at the Kool Moe Dee references and chuckling at the poetry about hinterlands of devotion, but mostly paying attention to the road — without knowing who it was; pretty sure I figured the main artist was male until my wife asked if we were actually listening to Sade. At which I time I remembered that I’d read she had a new song called “Soldier Of Love.” Which turns out to be quite a long one.

Martin Kavka: When I first heard the drum line for this, I bust out laughing at the thought of Sade going all butch on us. The lyrics, about someone who is a warrior on love’s behalf (“I am love’s soldier!”) but who has never known love (“still waiting for love to come”), are either oxymoronic or a canny portrayal of how the word “love” is just an empty cipher. But the production is beautifully layered, the singing sublime, and the image of Sade in a sparkly silver flared jumpsuit twirling a lasso will be seared in my brain for the rest of my life.

Al Shipley: Much like with “Pretty Wings” a few months earlier, hearing “Soldier of Love” for the first time was one of those rare instances where an artist pops up after a long hibernation with something that seems even remotely worth the wait. By Sade’s standards, it’s surprisingly aggressive, but it’s also strangely haunting, something that demands that you bend to its will and accept it on its own terms.

Ian Mathers: Remember how just before Portishead finally came out with their third album there was a lot of speculation and worry that it’d be just awful, that it would somehow sound out of date and desperately, graspingly “new” at the same time? Sade sounds nothing like Portishead, but this is the kind of thing we were worried about.

Matt Cibula: This has the best and most arresting opening line of any song in years, and keeps up the hotness through a bunch of smoky carnality and martial drum breakdowns. Why this isn’t #1 in the U.S. RIGHT NOW is the biggest mystery of my week. [8]

Anthony Miccio: This apparently made a big splash on the Hot Urban AC charts, which isn’t as surprising as the existence of a “Hot Urban AC” chart in the first place. Though it’s almost too martial to serve as erotic background swank, I’m sad these guys couldn’t tie their comeback to a new Adrian Lyne movie. Whatever happened to that guy anyway?

Anthony Easton: I like how she connects with the idea of the hinterland of devotion, and her not producing work in this long, but it does not strike me as something new or radical.

Alfred Soto: My first thought hearing this: “Oh, Sade were the missing link between the Style Council and Massive Attack’s Protection.” It drags a bit, but Sade Adu’s vocals still project the amused detachment of yore; she’s a soldier because she can’t be a general. Authority is beneath her. As this track surges, stops, and starts, she can only repeat the title mantra, looking you in the eye before she charges with a bayonet.

Alex Macpherson: I am in awe of Sade: she’s so fucking regal. I don’t believe there’s anything that she couldn’t make sound epic, even if she wasn’t casually evoking wilderness landscapes and endless, passion-fuelled marches across them, all located within her own psyche. “So I ride: I have the will to survive”: chin up, head forward, face toward the sun, immovable and strong amidst beautiful turbulence.

Alex Ostroff: Grasping for words to explain “Soldier of Love”, I keep returning to “grandeur” and “majesty.” This is a song well aware of its power, and not afraid to languidly establish its dominance. From the opening rustle of wind and the piercing notes of the trumpet, Sade deliberately recalls the cinematic, gradually adding in a martial drumbeat and strings before entering the scene on a fairly dramatic note: “I’ve lost the use of my heart, but I’m still alive.” And from that point on, her voice, deep and smooth, seduces and captivates your ears for six minutes. Spaghetti Western guitars and choral chants, clarion calls and bursts of cello all decorate the track and broaden its scope, but never become overbearing; everything is in its proper place, and never are more than two elements at the fore. And then, as quietly as it emerged, it fades away, leaving an elusive memory that compels yet another listen, if only to confirm that such stunningly evocative music truly exists.

Frank Kogan: Holy crapola, I do love me these songs about soldiering on in the distant hope of love (this, and Jenna’s “Soldier 4 Your Love,” and Paula DeAnda’s “Marching”). Here, Sade walks across an entire moonscape with her customary sangfroid, but accumulating dirt and blood as she crosses craters and climbs over blasted trees.

Martin Skidmore: I was never much of a fan: she always sounded classy and skilled, but she bored me. This slow number, with its military drums, is not terribly likeable, though it is a kind of impressive edifice, atmospheric and even rather tense. I think I needed a less restrained vocal in places, something less smooth and relaxed, more fiery or dramatic, to fit the mood.

14 Responses to “Sade – Soldier of Love”

  1. Good tune, shame about the “metaphor.”

  2. has there ever been a more Sade line than “hinterlands of my devotion”?

  3. This is better than Donny Osmond’s “Soldier of Love.”

  4. Adrian Lyne!

    THAT was the name I kept searching for while listening to this.

    Thank you, Anthony.

  5. Incredible, forceful thing. I mentioned this on ILM, and I don’t know if it’s the bassist, some other guitar player or some machine capable of syncopated ecstasy, but those machine gun hits of low end that offset the drum march–they make the song for me. They shake me out of the usual Sade coma (which is also awesome, just a different thing).

  6. Anything on the radio with the word hinterlands in it deserves at least a 9, surely?

  7. OK, this “Sade is boring” thing – it’s not just Martin S who thinks this, I think it’s a fairly widespread reaction to her. Can anyone expand on it? I don’t get it; unless you’re fundamentally opposed to qualities like classiness, smoothness and so on, which surely no one is, I just don’t hear anything in her music which would make me want to switch off. Just the sound of her voice and her arrangements is pure pleasure.

  8. At times, I think that “classiness” can come off as antiseptic and dispassionate. Take, for example, “War Of The Hearts” off the Promise album. It’s hardly bellicose, and while there are certain interesting moments — the beginning of the piano solo at 2:11, for example — by the beginning of the seventh minute I must confess that I’ve been a little bored for a while. It may be because of the disconnect between the lyrics and the aural mood; it may be because the song is 6:47. I really don’t know for certain.

    That’s not to say that I don’t respect it, though. I like Martin S.’s language of the “impressive edifice.” I’m impressed by a lot of Sade’s oeuvre, but I don’t necessarily like more than two-thirds of it.

  9. I’m way, way under 2/3 — more like just a couple songs here and there. Have never considered ambitions toward “classiness” a good enough reason to like music; as often as not, they’re a turn-off. And I generally prefer my smoothness given more shape and abandon, and/or less caution and distance, than I generally sense in her. So yeah, I’d say Sade is boring, usually. And I can’t say I’ve ever heard anything by her I’ve loved. But I don’t mind her, really. Not sure I’ve ever liked anything more than her first hit single, though — the one where she displayed her poor geography skills for all to hear.

  10. Yeah, I guess I get that for stretches of time Sade’s music is more about enveloping oneself in the general feeling rather than, like, boom-boom-hook at every turn, but I don’t get how this is equated with coldness or dispassion or sterility. It makes the music richer, emotionally, for me.

  11. Like Anita Baker, you need to keep a remote handy when playing her at home.

  12. “unless you’re fundamentally opposed to qualities like classiness, smoothness and so on, which surely no one is”


  13. To my ears this is a weird conversation to be having, because if we were talking about her old singles I’d be firmly on the side of the Alexes. But this song doesn’t feel smooth and classy to me, it feels silly and boring – and while being both of those at once is kind of impressive, it doesn’t help the song.

  14. And it’s also so long the effect is like being chloroformed.