Her voice personifies what it means to be a part of this journey called life.
I’m not sure if I’ve been under a rock or this album just flew under the radar, because I hadn’t heard anything about it or Emeli Sandé until the pitch came. When she first came out, I was enamored with “Next to You” and “Read All About It (Part III)” from her iTunes Session, and with good reason: Those were such powerhouse ballads.
Love Live the Angels proves to be no different as far as Sandé bringing the vocals; however, the arrangement of her voice and the subject of the songs tell a much broader story of the spiritual, self-discovery, redemption, and love. The 15-track follow up album to Our Version of Events opens with “Selah,” a Hebrew word used throughout the Bible that means to stop and listen as if to reflect.
“Breathing Underwater,” “Happen,” and “Hurts” detail a relationship that, at first, seems hard to describe. It feels freeing, and then so comfortably uncertain, until finally it transitions into a place of hurt under all the layers of stone in the realization that it no longer is the same relationship it once was.
Emeli Sandé’s second album gives me something I can believe in. Her voice personifies what it means to be a part of this journey called life. It’s a clear, focused, and emotional reminder of how haunting love can be. As explored in “Garden,” a track that features Áine Zion and Jay Electronica, I’m exposed to new layers of her voice. Her perfectly rhythmic lyrics against the haunting bass line and faint hymn-like melody are a great complement to love’s expression of freedom and passion.
As much as we’d enjoy experiencing love, we’d rather not and be lonely than to have our heart blown to pieces again. It’s a story we’ve all been in at one point: As much as we want something, we know it’s changed and we can no longer stay there without hurting ourselves.
One song that absolutely captures all of my senses is “Sweet Architect,” from its opening with only a piano and Sandé’s pleading vocals singing, “Oh sweet architect, my bones are heavy and my soul’s a mess/ Come find my address and build me up, build me up/ Oh sweet architect, I’ve been lonely since the day you left/ So come find my address and build me up, build me up.”
Listening to this song, I’ve teared up as I sit in reflection (selah). The sweet architect is God juxtaposed with current feelings, and Sandé is painting the picture of spirit: It’s tired, broken, but still hopeful, because the architect will come and build her up. It’s such a vulnerable and naked song in which Sandé lays her heart at the proverbial altar of the piano. The beautiful harmonies connect with me; I find myself in Sandé’s portrait and I, too, want a restorative love.
“We stay brave though we’ve been damaged/ See most got heart, but some’s savage/ Dear heaven, I hope you’re up to something/ ’Cause dear heaven, this just can’t be for nothing/ We’re still here, and we’re, we’re still breathing/ Yeah, we’re still here.”
Honestly, I would have loved for this song to be the last, but it doesn’t give us, as listeners, any resolve if the sweet architect came and elevated her. As I mentioned earlier, Long Live the Angels is about redemption, and no other songs showcase this better than “Tenderly” and “Every Single Little Piece.” Sandé acknowledges that tender loving can keep the cold out, and forgiveness only works if she gives everything: every tear, prayer, and breath.
Long Live the Angels lays Sandé at the mercy of our swords. She’s comfortable being that vulnerable and really confident within her relationships, so one with herself and the world around her that she can ride the highs and lows. I love that Sandé ends with the upbeat and happy “Babe,” in which she revels in vivaciousness. After her long journey of self-discovery, she feels more confident and ready to be someone’s love again. This is her moment and no one can take it away. B+ | Ashley White