Sade Lovers Rock

Given the playful allusion to reggae in the title of the first Sade release in aeons, Lovers Rock is ironically a collection of songs made up of relatively sparse arrangements. Most of the compositions are founded on acoustic guitar with gently applied beats, but not surprisingly, it's Sade's voice that reifies her instantly familiar ambience. With the songs intimately fixated on the themes of love, loss and rejection, her delicate phrasing, delivery and deft use of repetition often imbues a deeper meaning than the lyrics themselves suggest. Masterfully capturing moods, she conveys a fragility indicating her voice will crack at any moment on "Somebody Already Broke My Heart" and "Every Word." But the steely resilience on the dub chamber of "Slave Song" and the obliquely spiritual title track emerges as the overwhelming motif, and like her previous work is invested with an indisputable sincerity. (Sony)