Emeli Sandé may not be a household name, but she certainly should be. Her sophomore album Long Live The Angels builds from her experiences over the last four years into one raw, powerful record.
Long Live The Angels is soulful and raw, but also contains aspects of pop that give it a memorable flair. It gets off to a soft start with 'Selah,' lacking lyrical content but bringing the album to a soothing start. The hardhitter 'Breathing Underwater' follows through, vast orchestras supporting the ballad. The choruses miraculously chant "Something like freedom, freedom / My God, I'm breathing underwater" in a very uplifting and liberating way. The album tells a powerful narrative that doesn't have a plotline, but tells the story of the last few years of her life since her 2012 debut Our Version Of Events.
The R&B ballads are accentuated by some rawer tracks. The most powerful tracks are the raw ones, not bound with pop elements but instead are not afraid to channel a darker, more personal side. There's 'Happen,' the powerful orchestral track that rings with beautiful strings and symphonies. 'Give Me Something' takes the acoustic route, equally as powerful but even more emotional and sweet. 'Shakes' is much the same but on the piano, where Sandé confesses how deep her love goes: "If you don't want a daughter, then I'll give you a son."
The poppier aspect of the album helps the album see the happier aspects of her life. 'Garden' flows nicely with sweet synths, though the weird rap verse doesn't suit it well. It's very paradisiacal and genuine, harkening back to a sweeter time rather than the very personal ones. The entire end of the record is very soulful and poppy, sounding close to heart but still maintaining some ear candy. Some tracks find the right balance between happy and exposed - 'Hurts' rings with urgency, but the powerful drive and energy demands attention. It's sensual, caught in the crossroads of want and lust.
Emeli Sandé is perhaps the most threatening force in R&B, and not in an aggressive way. Long Live The Angels shows that she is not afraid to dig into her own life for inspiration. It's a close to heart second record, and hopefully the third can take it places this one couldn't.
Favorite Tracks: Hurts, Happen, Give Me Something
Least Favorite Track: I'd Rather Not
Rating: 75 / 100