September 9, 2019 Emeli Sandé – Real Life (Album Review)
Painting a beautifully uplifting portrait of Real Life, the exceptional Emeli Sandé returns on Friday, September 13th, 2019, thanks to Capitol Records.
Sandé, an English-born, Scottish Singer-Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist, is a four-time BRIT Award-winner who has written songs for the likes of Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Tinie Tempah, and many more. Making her exquisite debut as an artist, Sandé delivered 2012’s Our Version of Events and left the world shook, much in thanks to the international hit single “Next to Me.” After opening for Coldplay and sharing stages with Ed Sheeran, Bastille, and Sam Smith, she would go on to release 2016’s Long Live the Angels and be appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to music.
She has sold more than six million albums worldwide and nearly 20 million singles, so what’s next for Miss Sandé? After taking a self-proclaimed “intense personal journey of self-doubt and self-discovery,” this talented woman has arrived at studio album number three, the 11-song Real Life. Writing alongside Salaam Remi (Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse), James Poyser (The Roots, Erykah Badu) and the album’s producer Troy Miller (Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum), she crafts a bold, confident and fearless new sound that continues to highlight her exemplary vocal theatrics.
Real Life opens to the sultry vibes of “Human,” where funky bass anchors a clear display of Sandé’s undeniable vocal might. A reminder that the color of our skin means nothing—we all possess vulnerabilities and we all bleed the same—the lead-off track wastes no time in sharing universal truths as it hits hard in the feels. For track two, acoustic guitar pairs perfectly with Sandé in “Love To Help” which has a subtle retro vibe to its whispery soft verses.
“You Are Not Alone,” a Broadway-worthy epic, couples a piano accompaniment and a phenomenal Gospel choir with our diva’s lush vocals. An invitation into friendly arms, an uplifting caress, this is an affirming vow that you will make it out alive—and you’re not the only one. Amping the pace but holding onto that lush positivity, a Disco beat anchors the beautifully glowing rays of the soulful “Shine,” which is guaranteed to make you prance out into the sunshine and dance.
A twinkling intensity flits around the heart of the magnificent “Sparrow,” a bold, anthemic guarantee that you can take the world by storm—and a must hear track. Then, tender piano ballad “Honest” takes that promise and turns it inward in a truly moving moment, a reminder to never take anything for granted, particularly the people you love.
Much like Destiny’s Child, Sandé is a proud “Survivor” and she crafts an empowering, funkalicious anthem for those that have also proudly triumphed. This funkiness continues into the sultry, jazzy bass that anchors the velvety tribute to a one of a kind “Extraordinary Being.” (Hint: it’s you!) If you’ve heard the song before, that’s because it was released in May 2019 on the soundtrack to X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Blues guitar accompanies the R&B “Same Old Feeling” before album namesake “Real Life” opens with a blunt question, then goes on to offer some insight into real love and what it takes for a relationship to make it in this cold world. Ultimately, the soaring showstopper “Free As A Bird” wraps the entire collection up with a stunning, cinematic bow and a reminder of Sande’s timeless vocal prowess.
Emeli Sandé makes heartfelt music with soul, and her sultry vocals caress the senses as she sings universal truths that provide a glowing ray of hope. Whether this positivity comes in the form of a piano ballad or an upbeat, danceable offering, Sandé rocks it on this collection of radio-ready hits. If the goal was to craft an album that provides a smile to those that feel disenfranchised in our chaotic world, Real Life succeeds with its lofty harmonies, catchy choruses, and showstopping vocal performances that speak of universal love and universal hope. For this, Cryptic Rock give Real Life 4.5 of 5 stars.
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