Much Ado About Our Lady of Mellow

Lovers Live (Sony)

Sade

By David Lilly

Oo la la, she has charmed me again. Like getting away from it all with a partner in a mellow, exotic setting with a romantic ambiance, fans of Sade will savor this collection of live versions of 13 of her songs. For those outside the fandom: at its best, Sade's work can simultaneously tranquilize and stimulate. At its worst, it provides a danceable exotic breeze of a soundtrack for romantic tales and fantasies as well as the occasional morality lesson. Holy calm without the storm! When that's the worst music does, you gotta give the artist credit.

Considering all the skin and provocative posturing shown by some female singers, Sade's success and worldwide fan base might make her seem like an anomaly. Other than being blessed with a mellow voice that can whisper, soar, or effectively go anywhere between, one of her strongest assets is scarce in pop music today; she is low-key and fairly modest. She also displays humility on this disc by letting the audience know that it is her privilege to be onstage and to sing for them. Feeling that way is one thing, but the vulnerable act of letting the audience know it takes courage and class.

This CD is a class act as well. Not merely a greatest hits package, the disc contains a good mix of singles and non-singles from CDs. You've probably heard her first and latest singles on the radio. Neither is here, but present are the up-tempo "Paradise" the passionate "No Ordinary Love," the exotic, "Smooth Operator," and the longing of, "Is It a Crime?" The latter closes the CD on an exciting note, creating a desire for this disc to contain as much material as the 22-song concert film.

That's my only complaint about Lovers Live: It could've been a two-disc package (it's nice that there is a "bonus" disc with two songs on it, but - chant with me now - we want a full set, we want a full set). Maybe they did it this way to keep it more affordable.

At any rate, Lovers Live is highly recommended. The official website is likewise mellow and can be found at www.sade.com/sade.