Eight years ago Helen Folasade Adu said she was just popping down to the shops for some coffee and croissants and the morning papers. She never returned. And now she just breezes back into our lives as if nothing has happened, offering no explanations and hoping to pick up where she left off.
And you know, that's just fine and dandy because after listening to 'Lovers Rock' you can forgive her all those years of waiting for that letter, postcard or phone call. Back with the same band that helped her notch up such smoky, smooth jazz hits as 'Your Love Is King', 'Smooth Operator' and 'The Sweetest Taboo', Sade has produced an album of class, sophistication and melancholy soul.
Sure, a lot has happened in eight years. We've had Britney, Oasis, Craig David, Spice Girls, Westlife, All Saints et al. And while not much has changed musically in Sade's world, there's still plenty of warmth, sensitivity and substance in her songwriting and her foggy, heart breakingly sad vocal delivery.
Midway between the seductive vocal styles of Billie Holiday and Roberta Flack, Sade's voice is still as intimate, mournful and moving as ever. And 'Lovers Rock' offers a more stripped down, subtle backdrop for her sweet soul warblings, while still maintaining that 'coffee-table' sound. In fact, so relaxing and Sunday morning is it in feel, that each copy should come with a scratch'n'sniff espresso'n'bagels sleeve and the newspaper of your choice.
With the odd use of modern dance beats and the occasional nod to reggae, this is a tender and touching album, which doesn't stray too far from recent single 'By Your Side'. The sublime sigh that is 'King Of Sorrow', the tearduct tugging positivity of 'All About Our Love' and the reggae-flavoured darker side of 'Slave Song' are all cracking tunes.
But it's the acoustic beauty of 'The Sweetest Gift' and the absolutely gorgeous ode to failed love 'Every Word' ("I was loving you like a child/I really trusted you") which really make you want to throw open the front door and take Sade back into your life, no questions asked.
There have been rumours. And we may never know the real reasons why she disappeared for so long. But for the moment it's just great to hear Sade's voice once again.