Emeli Sande’s ‘Long Live The Angels’ Delves into Spirituality

emeli-sande-photoshootEmeli Sande is back, and her new album Long Live The Angels is simply dope.

So much music this year has leaned heavily on self-determination, especially for women entertainers. In many senses, Emeli Sande leveled up that thinking for her sophomore album by diving head first into spirituality and belief. The album reads as a direct communication of how spirituality plays a role in her life, and for her efforts, Sande has crafted an emotionally resonant collection of songs.

The album is packed with 18 songs, the bulk of them toned down and somber tunes. It’s no doubt a pop album, but her version of pop music is a blend of R&B, folk, and gospel. And it’s euphoric.

Spirituality opens the album in a big way with “Selah”, a haunting yet inspirational song layered with choral harmonies that is a masterful feat of songwriting.

“My love is the bomb and forgiveness is the rocket.”

And at the heart of it all is the concept of faith, regardless of religious affiliation. This is that track you won’t be able to get enough of.

Songs like “Sweet Architect” and “This Much Is True” strikes similar tones with their religious appeals. “Sweet Architect” is particularly poignant, once again employing a choir to add heft to an already deeply personal song.

“Breathing Underwater”, a play on walking on water, is one of the album’s true gems with its ability to speak directly to human experiences of miracles. The combination of anthemic orchestration and Sande’s open-mouthed belting forges a truly special experience.

The album only lightly touches on the topic of love, but it does so with two of its most infectious tracks. “Garden” is decidedly experimental with electronic elements, speaker exploding bass, and a lazy off-kilter beat. It’s the only sexual song on the album, but instead of being explicit, it’s sensual. And Jay Electronica comes through with a perfect verse.

“Hurts” speaks about the pain that love can cause, and its relentless clapping beat is irresistible. I dare you not to clap along. And her voice box shattering delivery is one for the ages.

Still, the concept that defines this album is power. Whether it’s the urgency of “Right Now”, the vocal range-defying “Every Single Little Piece”, or the unapologetically empowering “Somebody”, there is power in every lyric and chord of Angels. Even the quiet “Happen” about that feeling that something might finally happen in your life has a deep strength and conviction at its core.

Long Live The Angels is an uncharacteristically courageous album, not for experimenting musically or for baring one’s deepest secrets, but for the boldness of its content and conception. Emeli Sande manages to tackle spirituality without being exclusionary or arrogant. Instead, she is inclusive and broad in both her lyrics and musical choices, producing a body of work that is able to reach even the most cynical of hearts.

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.