Emeli Sandé

REVIEW: ‘Real Life’ – Emeli Sandé

Emeli Sandé – “Real Life”

by Christopher Smith

It’s been three years since Emeli Sandé released “Long Live The Angels”, now at long last, her third studio album, “Real Life”, is with us. With eleven tracks, it’s a much shorter long player than her first two, but perhaps quantity has been exchanged for quality on this occasion. “Real Life” reaffirms Emeli’s standing as one of our greatest modern day female vocalists in the music world. The album begins with “Human”, a beautiful mid-tempo ballad with a perfect orchestral accompaniment and a smooth beat. “Real Life”, as we will discover, is about simplicity, uncomplicated percussion instruments and Emeli’s superior voice sewing all of its parts together.

“Love To Help” is a prime example of this, stripped bare of heavy production and so allowing you to appreciate Emeli’s voice melt inside your soul. “You Are Not Alone” is already known to us, it’s the most recent single/track to be released prior to “Real Life” being released. Co-written with Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse, Fergie) it has a gospel, R’n’B feel to it right down to the choir chanting at its end. “Shine” (another track previously released) follows this patten perfectly. Emeli is obviously aiming to emulate Tina Turner in her execution of music now. “Shine”, as all songs blessed with this title should sound, is joyous and empowering in equal amounts.

Emeli made her return in March this year with the song “Sparrow“. The first taster of what her new musical journey would offer us enlists an army of vocalists and musicians to bring the epic power and majesty of this track to fruition. “Honest” is yet another stripped back track that is pretty much all about Emeli’s climbing and reach-for-the-stars voice. Short and to the point, the track hammers the point home with lyrics like “be brave, be bold, with no regrets”. Most of all be “Honest”. And that’s exactly what Emeli is being with us. “Survivor” offers more breath-taking vocals and organ backed gospel chords. “I put my hands in the air” declares Emeli. “Who gives me strength to keep going? You did it, you did it” before paying her dues to the almighty himself – “I thank God I’m a survivor”.

“Extraordinary Being” has a fantastic 70’s funk/disco rhythm running its course that will make you tap, wind and unwind to it repeatedly while “Same Old Feeling” has an old fashioned pure gospel purity to it any preacher man would just adore. It’s innocence and effortless style mark this track out as one of this album’s finest. “Same Old Feeling”‘s scope pours over into the album’s title track which reunites Emeli with her choir and the bare minimum of arrangement. The album closes all too soon with “Free As A Bird” which could so easily be the closing titles song to pretty much any film of the past fifty years or so. It has that cinematic, almost Disney quality about it, you know all has worked out well in the end for the main character, just as it has for Emeli, who offers us this enchanting and enlightening conclusion to her path of emancipation.

Recorded following an intense personal journey of self-doubt and self-discovery, “Real Life” marks a brand-new chapter and with it a bold, confident and fearless new sound. It’s an extraordinary album and emblematic of an artist emerging defiant and powerful. Emeli says of the album: “People who have been marginalised, forgotten or kicked down by this invisible oppression that’s always there, I just want to give them this incredible superpower every time they play the album. Like a battery pack – by the end of the album they’re going to feel restored”. “Real Life” is the sound of power; power of freedom, power of growth, and of authenticity. It was borne from the power of understanding who you are, and of finally being able to give to others what you’ve learned for yourself. Amen.

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