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On our minds and on our playlists

Sade releases her first new album in 10 years on Tuesday. Sade releases her first new album in 10 years on Tuesday. (Epic Records)
By James Reed
Globe Staff / February 5, 2010

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The old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder is a nice sentiment, as long as you don’t work in the music industry. Overstay your welcome, you can become saturated and we start to hope you will go to rehab (yes, yes, yes). But stay away too long and you risk alienating your fans and facing great expectations upon your return.

Next Tuesday brings interesting new albums from three heritage artists who have never been in a hurry or at the mercy of a fickle fanbase. Perhaps the most anticipated is Sade’s “Soldier of Love,’’ her first album of new material since 2000’s “Lovers Rock.’’ A cursory listen suggests she’s mostly working from her usual palate, which is to say you have a new soundtrack for when the lights go down some Saturday night.

We haven’t heard from Massive Attack since 2003 (“100th Window’’), but the trip-hop progenitors sound reenergized on “Heligoland.’’ As dense and brooding as the band’s early work, the album enlists collaborators you’d expect (Martina Topley-Bird) and a few pleasant surprises (Hope Sandoval, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe).

Completely out of left field comes Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here,’’ an apt title that plays up the unusual circumstances of his first record in 15 years. It’s out on XL Recordings, an indie label home to Vampire Weekend, and the industrial production couches his searing street poetry in electronic arrangements that sound both contemporary and completely out of time.

Check out Monday’s G section for reviews of all three albums.