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Stage (2)

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Album Review

Eight years after their debut release, Sweetback return with the mellow follow-up Stage [2]. The group — guitarist/saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, keyboardist Andrew Hale, and bassist Paul Denman (R&B diva Sade's backing band) — has crafted a laid-back album of retro-soul, contemporary R&B, melodic pop, and mildly experimental electronica. This time around, vocalists Chocolate Genius and Aya take over the lead singer duties from Sweetback's previous collaborators, Maxwell and Amel Larrieux. While the first album seemed like a hip furthering of the work the band did with Sade, Stage [2] feels even more like a side project — heavy on the electro atmosphere — with songs so minor and slight that they barely register. In that sense, those Sade fans hoping for more of the same accessible, jazzy, and sophisticated songs she is known for may or may not like this. There are some nice tracks, though, especially the Aya ones such as the atmospheric ballad "Lover," which would have fit nicely on Love Deluxe. Similarly engaging is the melancholy indie pop-sounding "Things You'll Never Know," which brings to mind the best Ivy. On the other hand, Chocolate Genius's woozy psychedelic vibe isn't as charming as Maxwell's dreamy croon, although the darkly acoustic "Jesus Girl" does sound a bit like Terry Callier produced by Jermaine Dupri. While the album isn't fully engaging, fans of quirky R&B looking for a mellow listen may find Sweetback a minor delight.

Customer Reviews


I didn't buy this, but from the clips it's not as good as their first CD. This one has a lot more singing, while the first CD only had a 3-4 songs with singing, the rest being instrumental. I prefer the instrumental tracks, it is like an instrumental Sade CD. And the few songs with singing have better singers (Amel & Maxwell). The singers on this are okay, but it's just too much singing for me. And the sound beats aren't as good. I doubt there will be another Sweetback CD, too bad they decided to change the format and sound.

I liked the first album a lot better!

This album, to me, was so different from their first. When it came out I thought, "cool and even better album", but it disappointed me. They did a lot of different things on this one which I'm sure others can appreciate, but I just didn't. Plus I liked the line-up of singers on the debut album. That couldn't be beat!

Sure it's not AS good, but it's still good

Okay, it's definitely not as good as their debut, but this has a more r&b feel to it, I really enjoyed Aya's vocals on Lover, All My Days With You, and Round and Round, a little more uptempo, but this album is still a really good album, definitely a favorite in my music collection, give it a try!


Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s

The three members of the New York, USA-based Sweetback first worked together as backing band to soul chanteuse Sade. However, with that artist taking an extended sabbatical from the music business, Stewart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Denman decided to continue their association together as Sweetback. The project began to coalesce in 1994, shortly after Sade had completed her Love Deluxe world tour. Matthewman built his own studio in New York, releasing a series of 12-inch dance singles under...
Full Bio
Stage (2), Sweetback
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Customer Ratings