A singer whose music is as exotic and elegant as her image, Sade utilized sultry, jazz-tinged vocals and smooth pop arrangements to become, deservedly, one of the most successful international stars of the 1980s. Her voice is a subtle thing, breathy and intimate, and her music mostly reflects that. She prefers a whisper to a scream, and most of her hits tend to simmer and percolate. She's also demonstrated real songwriting ability ("No Ordinary Love," "The Sweetest Taboo") and great taste in covers (Percy Mayfield's classic blues "Please Send Me Someone to Love" and Timmy Thomas's 1973 minimalist proto-disco hit "Why Can't We Live Together").
It could have been that Sade (collectively, the vocalist Sade Adu and her band) would have remained the darlings solely of the British underground rare-groove scene, but their sound proved irresistible to the mainstream, and the rest is history. Caught at the beginning of her career in 1985, Sade''s cool vocals and exotic looks grabbed everyone''s attention. But equally as important to Diamond Life''s success was the velvet muscle of the band''s accompaniment, a sinewy after hours groove, laden with minimalist funk. Eight of the nine tracks are self-penned. Straddling R&B and pop, this disc lays out the hooks and sultry allure that became Sade''s soulful standard--intelligent and sexy at the same time. --Derek Rath
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