June 28, 2004 12:00 PM


Sweetback consists of Sade’s three secret weapons–Stuart Matthewman (guitar/saxophone), Paul Spencer Denman (bass) and Andrew Hale (piano/keyboards)–who, since 1984’s sparkling Diamond Life disc, have played the perfect sidemen to chanteuse Sade Adu. On the jazz-pop trio’s 1996 self-titled CD, Sweetback recruited Maxwell and Amel Larrieux to give voice to their smooth, oh-so-sensual soundscapes. On the mood-enhancing follow-up, Stage 2, singers Chocolate Genius and newcomer Aya are sitting in with Sade’s boys. While neither can hold a scented candle to Miss Adu, Aya’s ethereal soprano adds a finespun texture to the lush tapestry of tracks like the ambient “Lover” and “Round and Round,” which, with its Latin rhythms, recalls Sade’s 1985 hit “The Sweetest Taboo.” When the gruff-voiced Chocolate Genius takes the lead on three cuts, however, the results are not quite as sweet.


You May Like