Emeli Sandé is a British national treasure our country is proud of. Her talent was showcased to the world at both ceremonies of the London Olympics. Now she returns with an epic 15 track album which is only the second after her 2012 debut Our Version of Events which carried hits like ‘Heaven’. Most modern Popstars churn out album after underwhelming album to please the mainstream masses, but the fact that Emeli Sandé has taken 4 years to craft her second is a testament to her artistry.
“blends electronic and live instrumentation in ways that often doesn’t work”
Having heard that Long Live The Angels is influenced by the Scottish singer’s Zambian background, I expected an honest album with this as its focus. However, love and heartbreak are the main themes, rather than her heritage. The album starts well, with Sandé’s vocals stripped bare on ‘Selah’, the texture only building slightly with the introduction of a gospel choir mirroring her words. This track doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the album however, which blends electronic and live instrumentation in ways that often doesn’t work. ‘Hurts’, the first single and one of the electronic efforts is perhaps the most catchy, with it’s fast-paced handclap background beat. Yet it feels wrong that this gives way to the acoustic ‘Give Me Something’. The dark R&B track ‘Garden’ ft. Jay Electronica is also badly placed with its lyric ‘In the club/ how you dance/ how you touch’, which leads on from the piano power ballad ‘Shakes’. The strongest track is perhaps ‘Tenderly’, with its expressive finger-picked acoustic guitar, and vocal help from her father and cousins who are credited as the Serenje Choir. Maybe it works because I was subconsciously expecting songs about Sandé’s background and this is the only one that does what Long Live The Angels says on the tin.