ANGELIC SCOTTISH SOUL-POPPER IN LIBERATING JOURNEY
Seven years after first appearing on rapper Chipmunk’s track ‘Diamond Ring’, Emeli Sandé is back, with her most uplifting and honest album to date. Long Live the Angels comes after four years of dramatic change and vaulting success with Our Version of Events – and she sounds totally up for it. The album positively sparkles with euphoria.
Opening track ‘Selah’ delivers a quick, soothing whole-body cleanse, to prepare the listener for the rest of the album. Quiet, choral hums elevate Emeli’s gentle voice as she repeats the Hebrew mantra, an uplifting approach that really works. There is a link to eleventh track, ‘Sweet Architect’, which harnesses the power from this mantra and builds on it.
Emeli’s vocals, from soaring Alicia Keys to soulful Nina Simone, map out an adventurous journey. Musically, she constructs a mountain range of highs and lows in both style and tempo. On the electronic surprise, ‘Garden,’ featuring Jay Electronica and Aine Zion, chill beats allow the mind to bask in the pool of freedom and passion she expresses, “Once outside these prison walls, to believe again is scary/ Your garden is my sanctuary,” she sings.
Running with the theme of self-discovery, the Scottish goddess shares her Zambian background in ‘Tenderly,’ which features her father and cousin, singing about holding onto family. “There’s more of us than ever,” she observes. She even names her backing singers The Serenje Choir, after her hometown in Zambia.
There’s a wonderful feelgood aspect to ‘This Much is True’, the penultimate track on the De Luxe edition: the mood is lightened by bright guitar strums and a sunny harmonica, letting everyone know that not one emotion went unnoticed in this extraordinary musical pilgrimage.
Long Live the Angels (Deluxe) Virgin EMI Records