Let's Say For Instance

Let's Say For Instance

Emeli Sandé’s fourth album, Let’s Say for Instance, is filled with milestone moments. It features the first track for which Sandé has been credited as sole producer—“Look What You've Done,” an anthem with a nostalgic UK garage beat—and the first she has written with her partner, classical musician Yoana Karemova. It also includes a song that Sandé’s previous record label suggested wasn’t right for her. Titled “Oxygen", it’s arguably the vibiest and most laidback she’s ever sounded. Let’s Say for Instance also finds the Scottish musician experimenting with disco, R&B, and delirious ’80s-style pop. “I definitely wanted this album to be dynamic and exciting,” she tells Apple Music. “And I knew I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.” Sandé has achieved that without sacrificing the trademark skyscraper choruses and stunning vocals. If her 2016 single “Highs & Lows” showcased her ability to meld pop, soul, and gospel into pure musical serotonin, Let’s Say for Instance finds her refining and supersizing that winning formula. “The story I want to tell is that anything is possible and it’s amazing to be alive,” she says. “Overall, this is me saying, ‘We’re here—let’s enjoy life and try to empower people.’” Read on for Sandé's track-by-track guide to her life-affirming fourth album. “Family” “It’s about determination and picking yourself back up again. I don’t want to exaggerate too much, but this whole period of my life feels like a rebirth. I feel unstoppable now because I’ve experienced the lows and got through them while keeping my excitement for life alive. Now that my family life is good and everything that’s actually important is sorted, I feel like I can really move forward.” “Look What You’ve Done” (feat. Jaykae) “This song started out as a piano ballad, but I really wanted it to capture the energy of London. This city’s like a train—it just keeps going. Working with [producer] Darren Jones was fantastic because he brought in all these nostalgic club elements. The lyrics are about losing control when you fall in love, a feeling that always reminds me of being in a club and feeling the music take over you. That’s the energy I wanted this song to bring.” “July 25th” “I really wanted a composition on the album that was purely instrumental. I’d like to take things in that direction in the future, to some extent, because it’s more of a challenge. Like, how can you really connect with people without lyrics? It’s the first song I’ve composed with my partner, who brings an influence from the classical world that you can hear in the melody. We also worked with Rosie Danvers, a fantastic string arranger who’s contributed to all my albums. It was really special to have a piece that came about from three women writing together, and I think the emotional depth reflects that.” “Oxygen” “I was incredibly excited when [producer] Fallen first played me the beat. Vocally, I feel like this song just fell out: It doesn’t feel like I’m pushing the singing too much; it feels more like I’m speaking. My challenge any time a producer plays me a beat is to capture what they’ve already started in the atmosphere, then add something that enhances it without making it stiff. With ‘Oxygen,’ I feel like we managed to meet in the middle quite nicely.” “Summer” “Lyrically, I think this is one of my most touching and honest songs. When you’re in love with someone, there’s this energy you share where it feels like summer all year round. Even if you’re in a bad mood, just being with them feels amazing. I said to Henri [Davies, producer] that I really wanted to have a sax solo on this album whether it’s fashionable or not, so we included a really beautiful sax interlude here.” “My Pleasure” “This song is about embracing and enjoying sex. In the past, I’ve kind of felt like I couldn’t go there because music was supposed to be this spiritual thing. But now, I’m like, ‘I’m a grown woman, this is part of who I am, and it’s not something to see as taboo.’ I remember someone saying I should give this song to another artist, but I was like, ‘No, this song is me. It comes from a very real place within me, and I want to show that.’” “There Isn’t Much” “I didn’t necessarily set out to make an ’80s tune, but when [producer] Shakaveli played me the beat, it took shape from there. I was thinking back to when my parents met, in 1986, in the student bar in Sunderland and what they would have been listening to back then. Music in the UK at that time had a very specific vibe: nonchalant but cool and kind of bold with it. So again, like with ‘Oxygen,’ my challenge was to match that cool vibe in my vocal and lyrics.” “September 8th” “I’ve never done a track like this before: It’s an interlude that sets up the song that follows. Like July 25th, September 8th is a significant date in mine and my partner’s love story. ‘July 25th’ is kind of like summer, where everything has come together, and it feels amazing. ‘September 8th’ is different: It’s where the love has matured and you’re settling into each other’s company and energy. When you look into that person’s eyes, it’s like paradise.” “Look in Your Eyes” “I think the best songs come from the best vibes. This song’s producer, Booker T, is a DJ who has a really extensive knowledge of music. He played me a load of intros to songs I’d never heard before, just so I could catch a vibe. Then he played me this song’s intro, and we built it into ‘Look in Your Eyes.’ I remember thinking I didn’t necessarily need to write a smart lyric or say anything super deep. I just wanted to catch a party vibe, which is something I’ve never really tried to do before. It was another challenge for me, but this song definitely has it!” “Ready to Love” “I remember saying to [producer] Ollie Green, ‘I really wanna sing. Can we do a singer song?’ So, we watched a lot of Whitney Houston performances, and I was like, ‘Why don’t we really push it vocally?’ I think the fashion with singing at the moment is to be more laidback and nonchalant, but I thought, ‘Let’s break the trend a little bit and bring proper full-on singing.’” “Wait for Me” “Whenever I play this song to my friends, they start dancing. It’s got this real Latin feel. Lyrically, I think it can be read in different ways. It’s a love story based on the idea of separation, be that through war or work or even death. The first time I sang it, [producer] Ratchet and I had a little celebration because we were so excited about how it sounded. But then, the next time I sang it, he was like ‘OK, I’m crying now’ because the song has so much emotion in it.” “Another One” "This is the first time I’ve really sung about how I feel as a Black woman. When George Floyd was murdered, it was just...it’s another one. Sadly, I feel like the lives of people of color are valued so much less than everybody else’s, and that’s become normal. Another young man has been stabbed. Another person has been shot by the police. We’re becoming desensitized to the fact that these are human lives. I really wanted to try and sum up those emotions. I thought, ‘Well, I can cry about it and get angry, but actually, let me use music to construct something that might be more empowering.’ The first verse is written from more of a male perspective because I was thinking about police shootings. And then the second verse is written more from a female perspective because I was thinking about the fact that Black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth. I really wanted to give both perspectives to show that racism seeps through into everything, even the health profession.” “Yes You Can” “I really wanted this song to follow ‘Another One’ on the album. ‘Yes You Can’ isn’t necessarily just for the Black community; it’s for anyone that’s felt downtrodden. A lot of people are experiencing low self-esteem or depression and this song is for them. After the words came out, I realized we needed to slap people in the face with the production. Because when you’re in a depression, you need an energy just as strong as the darkness to pull you out. That’s why we went super epic and tried to keep surprising people.” “Brighter Days” “And now we’re into the feel-good part of the album. This is really meant to be a festival song. I was so excited to be back in the studio again [after the pandemic], and I remember thinking, ‘Imagine being onstage again, with people singing along.’ And so, that’s what came out. I just wanted it to be a song that would make people unashamedly happy. And if some people think it’s cheesy, so be it.” “Superhuman” “I wanted the end of this album to be as uplifting as Grease, when the car is flying into the sky. ‘Superhuman’ is meant to be a reminder that being human is an amazing thing. Even the chances of everything coming together in your DNA and you being born are one in a trillion or something. I was thinking back to when I was studying medicine and learning about all the fascinating things that go on underneath your skin. I guess it’s human nature to take all this for granted.” “World Go Round” “This song is really about being in love again. I guess I see it in two different ways: one is that love makes the world go round, and the other is that no matter how hard things get, if you have true love from people, then anything is possible. And I knew that was the right message to end the album on.”

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