It is a day that blurs into the rest – nameless, timeless, and vaguely familiar – except for one thing. I must have been about 13/14 years old. Young enough to still be naive about and frightened by the hormonal murmurings that seemed to manifest themselves more and more frequently each day but, at the same time, starting to understand what caused them – the opposite sex.
There were pre-MTV days but still we devoured whatever music videos we could get our hands on. In Maseru, Lesotho, an American man based there used to have someone record videos in the US and send them down. He booked a meeting room at a local hotel and, every Sunday afternoon, for 20cents, we could sit for 3 hours watching these videos.
On that day, she was in blue jeans, a white shirt, hair pulled back, riding a horse on the beach. She was simply called Sade and I was mesmerised. And the music, her voice, resonated with my young soul in a way I did not understand but felt. I was infatuated with her and in love with the music. Over 20 years later, I still am…. infatuated with her and in love with the music. And she still looks (and feels) the same as she did all those years ago; as timeless as the music, at 51 years old.
Helen Folasade Adu, lead singer of the band Sade (yes, it is a BAND even though it uses her name), is one of those rare artists who have been able to carve their own space in the musical landscape. Sade, the band, does not follow trend, try to ‘stay relevant’, or ‘keep up with the times’, they create music they love and can be proud of. It is amazing to consider that, in 25 years, their latest release – Soldier of Love – is only their 6th album and their first since Lovers Rock in 2000. A decade after their last album, the anticipation and love has not dissipated.
The primary members of the band are Bassist Paul Denman, guitarist and sax player Stuart Matthewman, keyboardist Andrew Hale and Sade, and they came together in 2008 in work on Soldier of Love at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio in England, near Sade’s home in rural Gloucestershire. Between Love Deluxe and Lovers Rock, the band, excluding Sade had recorded and released two albums as Sweetback – Sweetback and Stage 2.
This time they were off doing their own thing with Denman managing his son’s punk band, Orange; Matthewman doing film soundtracks in New York; Hale running an A&R consultancy; and Sade focused on the personal (she’s very private). Fortunately for us, the friendship they share hasn’t changed in the 25 years and they all gave up the side-gigs to work on Soldier of Love. The majority of the music is created by Sade (lyrics), Hale and Matthewman, with Denman involved here and there.
The album is vintage Sade. The only music you could compare their music to is their music. It is as intimate as a comfortable silence, gentle, uplifting and enlightening. And Sade’s lyrics are poignant, creative and truthful soul-speak that seem like they are telling your story. Her voice is as soft and smooth as it has always been.
I have no favourite songs. I have had it on repeat for 5 hours now and I have no favourite song. Every song is beautiful. Every song is a piece in the puzzle. None can be isolated. It is a journey. I am submerged. I am not afraid. The music embraces me. Comforts me. The words touch me. Speak me.
The Moon and the Sky
You lay me down and left me for the lions
A long, long time ago
You left me there dying
But you’ll never let me go
Soldier of Love
I’ve lost the use of my heart
But I’m still alive
Still looking for the light
And the endless pool on the other side
You are the blood of me
The harvest of my dreams
There’s nowhere I can find peace
And the silence won’t cease
Even to the angels it may sound like a lie
For you child
He has the troops and extra backup standing by
For you child
For you he’s the best he can be
Oh child don’t you know
Your daddy love come with a lifetime guarantee
Bring me home
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
The dawn holds the heaviness of the night
I’ve heard the restless sighs and lovers lies
The brook, the beach and seen the devil’s eyes
So bring me home