Review #247: Love Deluxe, Sade

Karla Clifton
3 min readMar 9, 2022


#247: Love Deluxe, Sade

This album was released six years after Diamond Life (#200) and has an indie-trip-pop-jazz feel all its own. Diamond Life’s (DL’s) suave pop occupies a different cultural station, one that’s easier for reviewers to praise. (I’m not going to quibble about the order of these two albums, though, because I couldn’t stop humming songs from 200 while I was listening to 247.)

“No Ordinary Love” shows off a higher register from singer Sade Adu than I’ve seen previously, though she still goes quite low. For once I agree with the RS blurb about a few things: the electric guitar riff is quite ominous. “I Couldn’t Love You More” qualifies as “deep house,” as the blurb contends, yet the piano could have been lifted from a classical pianist’s fingers. That’s not the only callout to electro-trance music: “Bullet Proof Soul” sends a familiar message (if happiness is a gun, why not love?), and “Cherish the Day” is as ethereal as Enya armed with a drum machine. “Like a Tattoo” relies on a Spanish-style acoustic pattern and warm synths to support underneath Adu’s soft vocals.

Those are the dark, sparse songs; not bleak, necessarily, but quiet, low. Not every song is so understated. “Kiss of Life” is sweet and cheerful, could even be danced to once the sax kicks in. Sade’s voice dances on every note. How can she freaking do that?

I think the special thing about Sade is that she sounds so genuine. Her voice is big enough to be a diva, but instead of focusing on showing off trills and vibrato, she chooses to sing clearly and simply. It suits her band and their lyrics, which tackle topics ranging from true love to poverty. “Feel No Pain” is a lovely sad beautiful song about how being broke leaves you stuck and apathetic. It reminded me of “Sally” from DL, an empathetic tune about the Salvation Army.

The most important track to me personally was “Pearls.” I think it was the gorgeous orchestra, the shocking delivery, the insane figurative language. There is a woman in Somalia/Scraping for pearls on the roadside … Hurts like brand new shoes. It just moved me to pieces.

Then I found this review from Robert Christgau, who took issue with THAT SPECIFIC LINE and suggested she might be a “nice person with a million-dollar scam[.]” I was surprised to find that it hurt my feelings. This song moved me! How dare you dislike it? If I’ve ever accidentally hurt your feelings by being hard on someone who makes music you love, here is my formal apology and my promise to be more open-minded in the future.

Finally, are you a person who pays attention to track order of albums? Did you know that not everyone is? (Kudos to Adele for getting Spotify to stop doing that annoying thing where it would automatically shuffle an album.) “Mermaid” is in my opinion the perfect instrumental closer to a trip hop album album. Dulcimer bringing in sax and piano, until it finally quietly closes out. Sade forever.

Review #246: Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J

Review #248: American Idiot, Green Day



Karla Clifton