Emeli Sandé - "Sparrow"
Scottish soul singer Emeli Sandé has returned with a staggering new anthem, “Sparrow.”
The track boasts another powerhouse vocal performance from Sandé, who starts the song with a soft croon that flutters over a delicate blend of piano and chimes. But “Sparrow” changes in an instant, the rumble of a cymbal introducing a full gospel choir that backs up Sandé as she flies forward over marching drums and a sweeping orchestral arrangement. “Yeah, we’re gonna take the long, the long way home,” Sandé belts, “Oh, we’re gonna take the world, the world by storm.”
“Sparrow” marks Sandé’s first solo song since 2017, when she released a six-track EP, Kingdom Coming. Her last full-length album, Long Live the Angels, arrived in 2016. Last year, Sandé collaborated with a variety of artists, notably contributing to Chic’s latest LP, It’s About Time, while also partnering with Naughty Boy on the single “Bungee Jumping” and Don Diablo and Gucci Mane on “Survive.”
Sandé has said she wants her music to be remembered like that of Nina Simone, one of her favourite artists. Sandé was first exposed to Simone at the age of eight, hearing her perform the song "Why?" after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. After hearing such sorrow yet uplifting lyrics and expression through Simone's performance, Sandé was inspired to have a similar future with her music career. She also said: "These days nothing lasts, music is like fast food, you're in then you're out. She said, as much as she would like, she would never play the piano as well as Simone, but she would give it her best shot. She loves the songs Simone produced, including "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" and Simone's version of "I Think It's Going to Rain Today". She said that Simone's original songs are very poetic: "So when I listen to commercial stuff at the moment, I’m just thinking ‘haven’t you heard Nina Simone, haven’t you heard how a song should be written?" She went on to say "We choose and consume, feast and forget, then rush on to the next hot thing. There's no point chasing that kind of success because it's so transient. Far better to follow (our) own paths and be true to (ourselves)."
Sandé began working in the studio with Naughty Boy in 2009, where the pair first worked together on Chipmunk's debut album, I Am Chipmunk. When Sandé was 16 years of age, her parents took her to Alicia Keys Songs in A Minor Tour and she said she always wanted Keys to hear her music. She spoke on why she likes Keys so much: "I’d read about her background and identified with her on so many levels. She was mixed race like me, a great student who'd been top of her class, who played piano and loved Nina Simone. And there she was in the pop charts, yet with songs that had a message. I saw 16,000 people hanging on her every word and thought, "I want this kind of attention. I want Alicia to know my music." The pair met when Sandé had just came back from New York and just began a second songwriting stint, but this time involved with Keys. The pair sat at a piano and played for hours trying to come up with a good track. She said that she wanted the songs on her debut album to be fresh and she wanted to try and take it back how she wrote songs at the beginning of her career. Sandé had classical music training as a songwriter in her teens and learnt to play the piano at an early age, and getting across that she played, made and wrote her own music was very important to her. She said on the album, she wanted people to see every side of her as an artist, so it was important to have songs there where there could be a real connection with the lyric, rather than there just be throwaway pop music. Joni Mitchell and Lauryn Hill were also major influences for the album.
This song has so many powerful levels. It reminds you that the journey is just as important as the goal. Some times you have to explore every single possibility to make sure that that last path you take is the right one, and that’s ok. Take your time, stay true to yourself, take the long way home.
So today, with weary wings and a smile on my face, I choose Emeli Sandé’s "Sparrow" as my, climb every mountain, look out for me, I’ll find my hero’s welcome, song for an, accept the pain in equal measure, in this present moment there is nothing to worry about, live here with me on the journey, Monday.