December 09, 1985 12:00 PM


Cool, diffident and a tinge sardonic, Sade has created a uniquely seductive sound: that of a woman who believes in passion but doesn’t quite know where to find it. The voicings are a little reminiscent of Peggy Lee, but Sade’s connections to ’40s-’50s cool jazz are stirred into a delicious combination that also includes hints of the heat of her native West African music, not to mention the Africa-derived sounds of the Caribbean. It is all the richer because Sade has such a fine melodic sense. Her singing has elegance, and the musicians who back her, especially saxophonist-guitarist Stuart Matthewman and trumpeter Terry Bailey, are more than just accompanists. Matthewman’s saxophone behind Sade’s vocal on War of the Hearts displays some of the sensuality of the Lester Young-Billie Holiday records. There could be more variation in the pace of this album—Sade’s second release this year, though Diamond Life was recorded in 1984. The caveat just means that the LP is only wonderful with slight reservations. (Portrait/CBS)

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