Friday, March 16th, 2018

Sade – Flower of the Universe

You are a flower of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

Maxwell Cavaseno: For the past 35 years, Sade Adu and her band/production team have been one of the most singularly consistent visions of pop ever since. Nobody else has managed to secure Sade’s contributions beyond a sampling or a remix, and nobody else has been seen fit to assist Sade besides Stuart Matthewman & Co. To put it in perspective, that is a more well-protected collaborative chemistry than any R&B icon’s had before nor ever after and that it has evolved and maintained itself commercially and without any aberration is a testament to how one-of-a-kind Sade is. “Flower of the Universe” was both hotly anticipated by me (after all, new Sade!) and met with trepidation due to muddied reports of input from the likes of No I.D. and James Fauntleroy (a team I personally have little time for and while not grotesquely ill-fitting, would represent a major change). Fortunately “Flower of the Universe” IS quite the change, but still the Sade we know so well. The decades have done little to no impact upon her smoky contralto, and her lullaby-like sense of cosmic sheltering that she’s slowly honed since the Love Deluxe-era suit the unique demands of casual offering from a true pop visionary but contributing to a dauntingly strange film for families (ironically this leads to Sade’s best parallel in a record like this being Kate Bush with her “Lyra“). A song like this only makes the rumors of Sade’s return more anticipated for any other potential changes while trusting that if anyone knows how to take care of her listeners, it’s Sade Adu.

Crystal Leww: Congrats to Disney for having a shitton of money to bring Sade out of retirement. I am all about what Wrinkle in Time’s existence #means or whatever, but this is…a beautiful song that you paid for, yeah.

Katherine St Asaph: Cursory Sade is still Sade. The outro, bass and treble clefs set aflutter, isn’t cursory, either.

Katie Gill: I’ve missed Sade. “Flower of the Universe” is lilting and beautiful, a gentle lullabye with some Civil Wars style flourishes and harmonies. It’s soft, calming, and just so amazingly simple. This is a song for quiet moments, still settings, and peaceful pauses. It’s also relaxing as hell. It’s been ages since I heard a piece of music as effortlessly chill as this one. Sade practically weaponizes this calm and collective mood for an effortless final product.

Alfred Soto: An allusion to the ethereal bud from which the three protagonists of A Wrinkle in Time suck on oxygen as a transfigured Mrs. Whatsit ascends with them into the stratosphere, “Flower of the Universe” follows 2010’s tinny, static “The Moon and the Sky” — not my favorite Sade mode. At first the drum program and the banality of her lyrics disappointed me, then I let the ominousness of the long instrumental coda thunder into irresolution worthy of Massive Attack. I suppose I wanted “Soldier of Love,” but that’s my fault.

Will Adams: The big budget soundtrack-as-single trend has mostly resulted in tepid bombast that has no staying power, but if it means we get another gorgeously weightless song out of Sade, so be it.

Stephen Eisermann: Sade’s voice is haunting and ethereal as ever on this lovely track for Wrinkle in Time. I’ve always found her voice to be relaxing and honest, but here especially, her husky voice feels especially loving. The song instantly took me back to my favorite memories of my mother and even now, thinking back to Sade’s voice and the simple guitar accompaniment, I feel warm and held and loved.

Joshua Copperman: At first I thought the No I.D. version was superior – my favorite Sade song remains the first one I heard, “Soldier of Love”, and the unexpected snare hits of No I.D. reminded me of that song’s aggressive, charging percussion. This song just sounded too much like a straightforward lullaby to compete. But listening to the original again well after midnight, the strings and army of overdubbed Sades in this version more than holds it own. The a-capella outro alone, fading out before it seems like Sade is even done singing, is as haunting as anything I have ever heard from her. If this is meant a lullaby (which I’m assuming it is), then it’s easily the sultriest, most meticulously delivered lullaby I’ve ever heard. Such is the nature of Sade, someone whose proverbial reading of the phone book would also be sultry and meticulous.

Reader average: [8.66] (3 votes)

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2 Responses to “Sade – Flower of the Universe”

  1. alfred: 1) did you mean “moon and sky” 2) if so it’s less tinny and static than you remember

  2. He did, and he asked for it to be edited. Thanks Brad.