tue 24/05/2022

Album: Emeli Sandé - Let's Say For Instance | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Emeli Sandé - Let's Say For Instance

Album: Emeli Sandé - Let's Say For Instance

The popular singer moves further into commonplace mainstream fare

Emeli shows her psychedelic side (but not in the music)

Around a decade ago, Scottish singer Emeli Sandé appeared during a golden time for original female songwriters. On well-wrought, richly-inhabited songs such as “My Kind of Love” she quickly established herself as a characterful performer able to write grown-up songs with emotional heft, in the same league as the mighty Adele.

She sold millions, and maintained course, balancing elegant, thoughtful, soul-pop with more interesting fare, such as 2016’s “Garden” with Jay Electronica. Her fourth studio album, however, while rife with contemporary electronic tics, wanders steadily into the middle-of-the road.

“Sparrow”, lead single from Sandé’s last album, 2019’s Real Love, boasted an alarming new bombast and Let’s Say For Instance tracks on down this road. The album’s primary themes are love, clearly flavoured by a passionate new relationship the singer has entered into, and self-empowerment, the latter gunning right into the preposterous power ballad territory of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and the like.

The last few years’ deluge of trite, grandiose self-empowerment songs long ago went past the point of cliché. Sandé leaps into this fray, the latter half of the album boasting a run of such fist-pumpers. The OTT orchestral drum & bass of “Yes You Can” holds some musical interest, but the disco-gospel snap of “Brighter Days” (“All of a sudden, sun will start to shine on you/Know you’ve been running but now it’s time for your breakthrough”) and threadbare lyrical corn of “Superhuman” (“Don’t forget that you’re superhuman”!), less so.

The love songs fare better, notably the skittering “Look What You’ve Done”, featuring Brummie MC Jaykae, and the sparse, woodwind-fuelled slowie “Summer”. There are other cuts that are more persuasive too. “There Isn’t Much”, for instance, starts brilliantly, melancholic and relatively pared back, it's a borderline great song, but is emblematic of the album as a whole in that it can’t resist blossoming into a lighters-in-the-air stadium epic, replete with choral backing. Previously, Emeli Sandé stood parallel but apart from the blandness of Leona Lewis and proper nanny music, but, occasional production aside, here she's become a part of all that.

Below: Watch the video for "There Isn't Much", the best song on Let's Say For Instance by Emeli Sandé

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