Picks and Pans Review: Diamond Life

updated 03/11/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/11/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

Sade

Sade Adu, 24, lead singer and lyricist for the group that bears her first name (pronounced SHAR-day), was born in Nigeria and raised in England. From the sound of this album, she could have grown up in Detroit and New York, with a few side trips to Rio. Her phrasing and breathy delivery are reminiscent of Rickie Lee Jones and Michael Franks; but her smoky, resilient voice is more likely to bring to mind Carmen McRae or Nina Simone. This debut album, already a huge hit in Europe, is a moody, tightly arranged package that could make for some languorous dancing or listening. Saxophonist-guitarist Stuart Matthewman not only did the understated arrangements, but has sensually molded his solos and background fills around Adu's vocals. A lot of her lyrics are on the prosaic side: "You're the one who broke my heart in two/Where were you just when I needed you?" But she slips in some compact little tales too, such as Sally, about a woman with a habit for needy younger men: "She's doing our dirty work/She's the only one who cares." This LP suggests a terrific potential, and it provides some entertaining music to keep us busy while we're waiting to hear what Sade does next. (Portrait)

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