The three-year journey of self-discovery that led Emeli Sandé to her third album began at home. “Living with my family and seeing real life in action was so grounding,” the Scottish singer-songwriter tells Apple Music. “My sister and her partner are both teachers, and they're so responsible and such wonderful parents.” That home life has been the catalyst for 11 tracks that take in R&B, gospel, and trademark widescreen ballads—all united by empowering lyrics. “When you see what really matters,” says Sandé, “I think that's when the honesty has to begin.” Let her guide you through the album, track by soul-baring track. “Human” “Lyrically, I really wanted to stretch myself with this album. And for me, this song sums up what I'm trying to express. We've forgotten what an incredible experience it is to be conscious and to be on this earth, and we've kind of forgotten our humanity in some senses. I just want to bring people together with this music and hopefully inspire them to feel worthy of a great life and feel worthy of happiness.” “Love to Help” “This song came from the real family vibe we had while making the album. My sister just had her baby, it was a blazing summer, kids were running around, and we were cooking. Then I just took the guitar while we were eating, and the song was formed around this love. The whole song absorbed all that energy. That's also what I wanted my family to know—we've got one another, and at the end of the day, family is the most important thing.” “You Are Not Alone” “My favorite lyric here is ‘Do you still have faith that peace is possible?’ Even though we’ve become much more connected and everyone—seemingly—has a voice through social media now, there's still a sense of people's voices not having a true platform. Especially with the politics going on now, everything throughout the world just seems quite hopeless. With every lyric on here, I just want to remind people of how powerful voice is and that they’re not alone.” “Shine” “This was one of my favorites to write because I started the idea when I was in LA and it was the first time I’ve been able to fully do everything myself. There were no other musicians or lyricists. It feels nice to have that control over everything and find the triangle by yourself, because then everything about it is so personal. This song, for me, has such a pure message.” “Sparrow” “I've always dreamed of playing the piano while someone's doing military drums. The piano's quite stoic, and I thought it would sound powerful. I asked Troy [Miller, producer and percussionist], as he’s a world-renowned drummer, to do the marching snare. He picked one up off the floor and started playing on his lap. I was like, 'Yeah, that's it.'” “Honest” “We all create stories that help you in life, as we all need certain protections. Sometimes you forget you’re still in a persona. That was a big message on this album: Know who you are regardless of what other people think. This song is getting rid of any persona, any mask to relax and enjoy yourself as you are. I only really began being called Emeli when I moved to London. Emeli—the professional—is a perfectionist in how I want things to sound or look. Whereas Adele—the real me at home—is just very messy and absent-minded. Now there's a nice union of Adele and Emeli.” “Survivor” “I’m inspired by Janis Joplin, especially when I watch her performances, as she just jumps right in. She’s just so brave and honest. She's so giving in her energy. I went to see Little Girl Blue, the documentary about her life, and you see the struggle she went through. She took that pain and reversed it and made it into strength to share with others, and I really admire that. Whitney Houston, too—now that we've learned more about her life and what she was going through behind that image of perfection, we can really reflect on what a gift that was. You can hear someone's life in their voice.” “Extraordinary Being” “The piano of this song really stood out to me. Initially, the whole song was completely acoustic, but my delivery reminded me of Michael Jackson. I really wanted to get that snappy approach to it. So we tried something different with it, and it brought the song to a new level.” “Same Old Feeling” “When Troy and I sat down, he said, ‘So, what album have you always dreamed of making?’ No one had ever asked me that, because it’s always been song to song, and at the end, you put them all together. When I really thought about it, I said I wanted to make something like Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, or Jimi Hendrix. I listen to those recordings and they're not done in the most amazing situation—the mic’s a bit fuzzy or the amp starts to feed back—but you feel something true running through them. I want to make something that's not overly polished but you feel it breathing. And he said, ‘Well, I'm the man for that.’ He had all these analogue keyboards. There's not one digital or fake sound in there.” “Real Life” “Each verse has a different couple as a true example of real love. When I think about them singing it, it’s a very cool feeling.” “Free as a Bird” “This was a period in my life when I felt I was beginning to find who I really was and what I wanted in life. The first verse is a personal one, with this new feeling of being able to breathe and be myself. The second verse was one I lived with for a while. We were on tour in Poland and went to Auschwitz, the concentration camp. We were told a story of three prisoners escaping. My band members and I were just trying to imagine—which is impossible, I know—that feeling of freedom in the most profound sense, and not escaping alone but escaping with two other people.”

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