Sade - The Essential Sade (2014)

Sade
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Thanks to those demure, dusky vocals, tantalizing soul and jazz grooves and, of course, that minimalist yet mesmerizing fashion sense, we just cannot get enough of Helen Folasade Adu, AKA Sade. In the nearly 30 (!) years since her Diamond Life debut, the Nigerian-born and England-based superstar channeled the virtuosities of early influences (Al Green, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin, to name a few) to create a foundation of effortless, inimitable hits.
Thanks to those demure, dusky vocals, tantalizing soul and jazz grooves and, of course, that minimalist yet mesmerizing fashion sense, we just cannot get enough of Helen Folasade Adu, AKA Sade. In the nearly 30 (!) years since her Diamond Life debut, the Nigerian-born and England-based superstar channeled the virtuosities of early influences (Al Green, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin, to name a few) to create a foundation of effortless, inimitable hits. It's hard to imagine any fan of adult-contemporary pop, jazz or R&B not having some Sade within arm's reach already, but if one wants to remedy that egregious oversight without downloading all six of her previous CDs, then The Essential Sade will certainly get the job done. 
 
An expansion of 1994's The Best of Sade and a re-configuration of 2011's The Ultimate Collection, Essential is a double-disc set that contains every expected hit single from the enigmatic and all-encompassing performer, as well as a pair of 'b-sides' and two updated remixes. Some so-called 'greatest hits' or 'ultimate collection' sets maddeningly omit a monster smash here or fan favorite there, but this particular lineup is nothing but net, thanks to including every anticipated sparse and sensual ballad ("Pearls," "Stronger Than Pride," "Is It A Crime,"), folksy mid-tempo narratives ("Jezebel," "Babyfather," "Soldier of Love," "Immigrant") and all of the glorious and glossy moments in-between ("Smooth Operator," "Nothing Can Come Between Us," "The Sweetest Taboo" and a lilting, lovelorn version of Thin Lizzy's "Still In Love With You"). And for the true music aficionados, the included mini-booklet with photographs and extensive liner notes make would make a trip to a brick-and-mortar spot all the sweeter.
 
Since ....Essential accomplishes its goal----reaffirming Sade's iconic presence and artistic evolution as whispers of new music by 2015 abound---- the one material misstep bears mentioning anyway, as in the unnecessary embellishment of "The Moon And Sky" with a Jay-Z verse (Does Sade actually need street cred? Is Jiggaman's brash flow a good meld with Ms. Adu's elegant croon? Um, NO.). And for some, the digitally-enhanced sound too often makes her inimitable contralto compete with the arrangements to be heard. Otherwise, make Mother's Day, Memorial Day or even Loads Of Laundry Tuesday that much better with this Essential addition. Your musical palette, as a result, will be grateful and well-fed. Enthusiastically Recommended. 
 
By Melody Charles
 
 

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