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. With all lyrics written by Emeli and working with the likes of Salaam Remi, James Poyser and Troy Miller, who produced every song, the album’s 11 tracks act as warm balm for anyone looking for positivity. Opening track, the compelling Human is a sobering reminder of our vulnerability that sets the tone for the record as Sandé sings, “We all human / We all go through things.” This is followed by the acoustic guitar lead Love To Help, a poignant and smooth statement of solidarity, while on the soaring You Are Not Alone, the singer, flanked by the halo of a choir, returns with the anthemic sound that made her a star. Building on this momentum is lead single Sparrow, an empowering track that showcases the singer’s dynamic voice on top of marching drums, resonant pianos and resplendent backing vocals, as does the sermonic Survivor with its flecks of R&B and gospel. Honest, a tender piano ballad, sees the singer deliver one of the most emotive songs of her career, and the cinematic, string-led Free as a Bird which closes the record is timeless. Elsewhere, like on the disco-tinged Extraordinary Being and soulful Shine, Emeli pushes her sound further than ever, showcasing the faith of a woman and an artist who now truly understands herself.
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