DAR Music: Sade's Love Deluxe

By @TrueGodImmortal

1. No Ordinary Love 
2. Feel No Pain 
3. I Couldn't Love You More
4. Like A Tattoo
5. Kiss Of Life 
6. Cherish The Day 
7. Pearls 
8. Bulletproof Soul 
9. Mermaid

There are moments that shape music and never leave our memory. For me, Sade is one of those artists who will never leave my memory, no matter how long her hiatus is. Or should I say, their? We tend to forget that Sade is essentially a band, and Helen Adu is merely just the lead singer and face of the group. There is usually little discussion on Andrew Hale, Paul Denman, and Stuart Matthewman, who round out the rest of the band. The British band had created something special with the first three albums, as they all went multi platinum.

After a 4 year absence, and before Sade would take a near 9 year hiatus, they would deliver an album that's absolutely timeless and effortless in execution. The ambient sound and the cool jazz meets soulful R&B vibe was well within their 4th album, and as we begin approaching the 25th anniversary of this album later in in the year, we wanted to look back at Love Deluxe. I'll start with production and go into our usual track by track breakdown, before finishing with a look at the legacy of the album. Let's get into it.

The production on any Sade album is nearly flawless and dare I say, this might be the smoothest album in the catalog, production wise. There's a very relaxing feel behind every production here, and it's really hard to pick my favorite production on this album. But the guitar work from Matthewman is top notch on a number of tracks here, but most notably on the opening track of the album "No Ordinary Love". Denman and Matthewman take over the background accompaniment with the sweet bass and guitar work, which work very well with the smooth vocals from Ms. Adu.

However, the thing that used to drive every Sade album production wise for me is missing in a way. The first two albums had resounding horns in many of the songs, but here, the horns are much more muted and subdued. Where a "Smooth Operator" or "Your Love Is King" was driven by the high level of horn work and saxophone arrangements, songs such as "Feel No Pain" and "No Ordinary Love" are driven by the piano/keyboard work along with the sweet guitar sounds behind it. The one track here that really blends the horn selection and the keyboards perfectly on this album is my favorite "Kiss Of Life", as it is one of the most relaxing yet iconic songs in Sade's career. This is the best produced song on the entire album and the way the instruments clash yet combine beautifully honestly blows my mind.

As for other songs, I also enjoy the horns throughout "Bullet Proof Soul", but for some reason, the drums seem to throw off the track at certain moments during the verse and the beginning. Still the keyboards and horns together in the breakdown and hook make for a beautiful marriage. Another track that really goes above and beyond production wise is the orchestra like "Pearls", which features a beautiful cello along with subdued horns and string arrangements. There are no drums on this song, but for a song of this magnitude, they aren't really needed. The orchestral feel of this production floats easily alongside the majestic vocals from Ms. Adu. This is another smooth production and my second favorite behind "Kiss Of Life".

In essence, this album is one for the late night and the production supports that completely, as every song gives off a vibe of either perfect for a late night drive or perfect for a late night "session". The production is what truly vital to an album and its quality, and this album does just that and does it to near perfection.

Track By Track 
This is always the fun part of these type of articles. From the vocals to the lyrics to the production to the subject matter and the delivery, along with the overall feel of each song, we break down what makes the song special, or what makes the song miss the mark. This is always interesting with the non hip hop albums. Let's examine.

*No Ordinary Love
-One of the greatest "breakup" love songs in the history of music. I believe that. It's not about the fluffy side of love, the honeymoon phase, or anything of that nature. This isn't a finger pointing breakup song or one that laments cheating and despair, but rather that point in love where you're exhausted from trying so hard. Where the effort feels as if it has led nowhere. Where the time invested begins to hurt just as much as it makes you happy. Still, there is something about this love that continued to pull you back in. The way Ms. Adu delivered the vocals here really let it set in before you get the bigger picture. When you hear "I keep crying... I keep trying for you", you know that the true meaning of "No Ordinary Love" is that love is complex. Love is never easy. And when she says "you took my love", this is where you realize that she's preparing to walk away, but hasn't reached that point just yet. It's a really interesting song that is executed perfectly. I've seen this listed on many of the greatest love songs list, but truth be told, it's really the best breakup song I've ever heard. The guitars and keyboard arrangements here are beyond beautiful.


*Feel No Pain
-A lot of the songs that Sade makes are very heavy when you look at the profound lyricism that's condensed into the song.  This is one of those songs that really hit home if you've ever went through some sort of struggle. The opening lines of "Momma been laid off, poppa been laid off, my brother's been laid off, for more than two years now" let you know the meaning of this song is much deeper. References to the ghetto, a man breaking down, and helping them to live long and smile all hint at the dark place that being without work and what poverty can bring you mentally. It's a great song that really delivers a message in multiple ways.


*I Couldn't Love You More 
-This is not one of my favorites of the album, but the smooth production is really the best part of this song. Ms. Adu coasts through the song vocally and while the song isn't as one of my favorites, it's still a near flawless gem. The piano/keyboard work on this track is timeless behind the subdued drum patterns. Lyrically, it's one of the more simple songs on the album, which is why it doesn't get a perfect rating here, but what it does well is show how effortless Sade can take a song that would normally be lifeless and inject life into it.


*Like A Tattoo
-One of those songs that I came to appreciate more in my later years, this song begins with a very soft guitar riff that leads into some minor keyboard work in the background and then the always luxurious vocals from Ms. Adu that carries the song. The way the instrumentation plays in the beginning and middle of the song, there isn't a traditional chorus here and it's almost like a long running poem in song form. It's a short song, interlude like almost, but it's perfect as is and leads into the best song on the entire album.


*Kiss Of Life
-It's almost impossible for me to explain what this song means to me in words. For one, there's a song I recorded called "Must've Been Angels" that sampled this track (check out SR1), and that song means a lot to me personally. This song was one that my mother and grandmother both loved as I was growing up and my mother still loves now to this day. I have a personal affinity for the song in general, but the song itself is just beautiful. The guitars and the keyboard with the horn through the bridge just sounds absolutely amazing. It's a spiritual song that speaks of love and the power within it, and how it feels like there's an angel by your side when you find love that moves your soul. The production just flows and when there's that  15 second breakdown towards the end that just plays the instruments before bringing her vocals back in, it showcases the musicality behind a track that seemed simple in execution, but only because it was so flawless.


*Cherish The Day 
-The production on this one is rolling in a way. The drums hit the hardest on this track, and the bass has a bit of knock to it, which is shocking in a way for a Sade song. The atmospheric production and the vibes behind this really just feel epic. The lyrics, like many Sade songs, hint a much deeper meaning than just falling in love or a strong love, but if we just take this song based on surface, it's just a completely perfect song that relaxes the mind and the senses while pulling you in due to the infectious rhythm and of course the sing along feel of the chorus. It is one of the best songs on the album.


-Any song that starts off with an orchestral like vibe and a beautiful cello leading you into the actual song is going to be perfect. The lyrics speak to something much darker, as she starts the song off talking about a woman in Somalia who seems to slave her life away to do what she has to do to survive, but it also seems to be taking its toll on her. It's a tough song to listen to if you pay attention to the lyrics, because you can feel the plight of the Somalian woman this song is dedicated to. There's also the very haunting "Hallelujah" near the end of the song, which really paints a picture of the decrepit conditions this woman is dealing with. In addition to this, the production does help illustrate the despair the woman feels, and the instrumentation here is completely perfect for this particular song. There's not much more I can say about this song, except it's a completely flawless track and one of the best from Sade, not only here, but in general.


*Bulletproof Soul
-The lyrics hit hard in a way here, depending on the person and their love experiences. When Sade sings "you were too busy thinking you were the only one", it resonates with many in the world and that's what makes this song special. It's subtle in the approach about love and heartbreak, but it also talks about rushing into something and not guarding yourself, thus getting hurt along the way. It's really a great song, and the overall sound flows together well, and aside from a briefly off drum pattern, this song is perfect.


-This song literally begins with some majestic production before it leads into the final form of its production with something that sounds perfectly primed for a movie score. The horns are a bit more glorious here than on previous songs, but what makes this song hard to really judge is that it is merely an instrumental. A great instrumental, but an instrumental nonetheless. I can't really rate this, but the instrumental is flawless listening so I have to give it at least a 9 out of 10.


This is seen by many as the best album from Sade, but I disagree. I think Diamond Life is the best of them all, but Love Deluxe is right behind it in the no. 2 spot. The iconic cover of a topless Sade covering herself with her arms is one image that remains recognizable to just about any music fan. The album itself is one of the best albums of the 90's, and it helps to really complete the Sade legacy. It's the go to album for most people because the smooth jazz vibes are exactly what we love about the music, and most importantly, her. Yes, Sade is the band itself, but we have recognized Ms. Adu as simply Sade for decades now, and just about 25 years later, Love Deluxe is still a certified classic. With 4 million records sold, and a Grammy for "No Ordinary Love" as well, Love Deluxe was one of the most important albums in the early 90's for any genre of music. I started to rate this at a 9.5/10, but there's far too many perfect scores to accurately do so, as it would be more like 9.8/10, but overall, this is pretty much a flawless album, and there's only one way to rate a truly flawless album. As perfection.

Rating: 10/10 



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