A Long-Awaited Return
Scottish singer and songwriter Emeli Sandé has returned to the spotlight after her long hide-away from the recording studio. Sandé last released an album, Our Version Of Events, which was her first and only album, four years ago in 2012. This well-received first album sold over a million copies in the UK alone, sky rocketing Emeli Sandé into fame. She performed in both opening and closing acts for the London Olympics in 2012 and won two Brit awards, Best Album Of The Year and Best British Female Artist in 2013. However, Sandé has been keeping it on the down low for the past few years. During her time away from the studio, Sandé has been very active in participating in humanitarian efforts by singing at fundraising concerts and campaigns to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and Ebola.
Now, she is back with a generous 15-track second album, Long Live The Angels, which has been anticipated by many. Although it has been four years, Sandé’s style remains consistent-similar to that of Adele and Leona Lewis. The album eases in with “Selah,” a calm ballad accompanied by echoing choir that gradually picks up in intensity towards the latter half of the song. “Breathing Underwater” mimics the style of Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding In Love” in a powerful ballad with steady pulsing beats. The ending has a nice twist as it fades out with a chanting gospel choir. “Happen” is a darker ballad that kicks off with guitar strumming–similar to Adele’s strong ballads of broken hearts and one-sided feelings. “Hurts” really switches up styles from this ballad-style album with an up-tempo track jam packed with a whirlwind of emotion. Released as her first single since her first album release, it does not fail the fan’s expectations. The intro is comparable to an orchestra version of Fall Out Boy’s “I Know What You Did In the Dark” or “The Phoenix” that has an up-tempo clapping beat that is gradually joined in by drums, strings and even horn accompaniment. The build up in this track is nicely put together and its definitely one of the catchier songs on this album. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this used on a movie soundtrack.
“Give Me Something” is a weary plea to her higher being in a heavy acoustic number similar to the style of Jason Mraz. Despite its repetitive lyrics, it has a rolling melody that easily persuades the listener into singing along. “Right Now” is a mellow electric guitar number with an intro style similar to The 1975, where Sandé confesses her need for love and affection in the present with lyrics pleading, “Who’s going to love me right now?”
“Shakes” has an interesting arrangement as an echo effect is placed on Sandé’s voice. It gives a live performance feeling to this slow heartbreaking piano ballad. “Garden” features Jay Electronica and Áine Zion in another slow tempo number, however has a nice touch with its bass beats, producing a modern pop sound. With similar use of beats to “Garden,” “I’d Rather Not” is a very light number with ringing piano chords, adding a nice touch to the melody. “Lonely” has a little Colbie Caillat touch to it, with a subtle but cute mix of acoustic and voice beats. “Tenderly” features her father, Joel Sande and the Serenje Choir in a sweet chorus with a lively percussion accompaniment. Finishing her album off is “Babe,” a number that surely grows on the listener upon repetition. Not only is the melody catchy, it implements the instruments perfectly-slack guitar, drums and just the right amount of repetition with its lyrics.
Long Live The Angels is an album that is definitely more than satisfying for fans that just ended their 4-year wait for new Sandé tracks. This album reveals a more defined and strong identity of Emeli Sandé, with edgier tracks with variety in their arrangements. Although majority of her songs are ballads, Long Live The Angels isn’t tedious or dreary–the album includes variations of slower tempo tracks which allows for an entertaining listen. Now that Sandé is back into the spotlight, it would be nice to see her stay and bask in the light for awhile.