Emeli Sande enjoyed huge success with her debut album Our Version of Events. Released in 2012 the album has sold more than 2.2 million copies in the UK alone and enjoyed some success in the US. For a time you couldn’t move without hearing one of Sande’s songs and The X Factor was rife with hopefuls putting their twist on her hits (Clown proved to be a particularly popular choice). Rising up post Adele, Sande was unfairly labelled as the ‘new Adele’ (ironically her real first name is Adele) but she soon proved that she’s a different type of singer. It’s true to say both have big voices but Sande tends to lean toward the cooler spectrum when it comes to musical genres.
After a four year wait, Sande unleashed her second album Long Live the Angels last week. The Deluxe Edition of the record features 18 tracks so fans who’ve been waiting for a long time will likely be pleased with the amount of new music on offer. Prior to the album release Sande released the frenetic Hurts and the more familiar gospel-tinged Breathing Underwater. The tracks show the scope of Sande’s versatility and they are good examples of why she manages to appeal to both millennials and an older audience.
Long Live the Angels opens with the ethereal and biblically titled Selah, a relatively short and dreamy track with Sande delivering a tentative but distinctive vocal. It’s a surprisingly low-key beginning the perfect segues into Breathing Underwater, a song that easily bridges Our Version of Events and this record.
Much of the subject matter for Long Live the Angels is love, which is no surprise given that Sande has been married and divorced since the release of her debut album. Rather than delve into despair and misery though, Sande has found interesting and atmospheric ways of exploring the subject. The powerful Happen starts deceptively slowly but in the second half Sande unleashes the true power of her voice and it’s one of those spine-tingling moments that only she can produce.
Elsewhere on the record Sande will have you reaching for the hankies on the stunning Shakes, delivers optimism on the uptempo Tenderly featuring Joel Sande and The Serenje Choir, and drives the melody with her powerful voice on the beat-filled Highs & Lows. Garden featuring Jay Electronica and Aine Zion is one of the more left-field moments on the record mixing trip-hop contemporary beats with a very different kind of vocal from Sande.
The acoustic-led Lonely is one of the finest moments on the record. Without a doubt it will be murdered by many X Factor contestants to come but at this point it’s a beautiful ballad with a mighty fine vocal from Sande. She utilises the whispery end of her range but lets her big voice soar in the song’s second half. Another glorious moment comes on the goosebump inducing Right Now, which features one of Sande’s most passionate and stirring vocals as she begs someone to love her.
The only criticism that can really be levelled at Long Live the Angels is that there are perhaps a few too many tracks. With 15 on the Standard edition and 18 on the Deluxe, it can at times start to feel a little samey. For me, Sande’s voice carries you through and she lays her heart bare across this collection of songs. She sounds incredible throughout and there’s no doubt Long Live the Angels is going to be one of the biggest albums of the year.
Track Listing: 1. Selah 2. Breathing Underwater 3. Happen 4. Hurts 5. Give Me Something 6. Right Now 7. Shakes 8. Garden (featuring Jay Electronica & Aine Zion) 9. I’d Rather Not 10. Lonely 11. Sweet Architect 12. Tenderly (featuring Joel Sande and The Serenje Choir) 13. Every Single Little Piece 14. Highs & Lows 15. Babe 16. Kung Fu 17. Somebody 18. This Much Is True Record Company: Virgin EMI Release Date: 11th November 2016