Emeli Sandé ‘Breathing Underwater’ Song Review

So it’s been a little while since we last covered one of Emeli’s singles off of her upcoming album. The singles we’ve heard prior to this have been okay, but nothing special in my honest opinion. I just feel like she’s capable of more than this and that’s been proven before with ‘Next to Me’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Beneath your Beautiful’. I feel like she hasn’t hit upon her mojo on this record and that’s a great shame being a big fan of her prior work. However, how did things turn out this time round?

Well I thought this track is was big improvement. It felt more sincere, more emotional and it seemed more original. Of course vocally the track is outstanding, but the instrumentals are much better too this time around. They sounded much more organic and the song in turn sounded much more spiritual. Emeli definitely works better with drier instrumentation. I also thought the ending of this track was outstanding, first time I’ve seen an approach to a climax like this, this year.

Production wise the track is pretty darn good. The strings sounded gorgeous and natural, the vocals sounded raw and rich with a rustic tone, and the gospel ending gave me goosebumps. Nothing was chopped together and instead we got a really cohesive tune with each layer working in unison rather than just on top of each other. Everything blended beautifully and I honestly cannot fault the production.

Musicality wise the track is also pretty solid. The progressions of the instrumentals, though simplistic, did add an uplifting aura to the track similar to say a Heather Small or a Diana Ross. But let’s not beat about the bush here, this track is Emeli Sandé the artist at her best. Her vocal performance throughout this track is powerful, passionate and impactful; the three adjectives that I want to hear when listening to a ballad. However, her vocal dynamics are also fantastic. The juxtaposition of big booming notes and sequences of softness and solemness works like a treat to escalate this songs climax. What a climax. The gospel choir at the end gives one final tug to your heartstrings and sends the track out fittingly.

Lyrically the song is also much better than prior efforts. Some of the great stuff in here comes across like straight up poetry to me. It’s a song that is both personal and expressive, as well as applicable and relatable; the lyrics are spot on for a track like this, they never dive into cheesiness or cliche.

All in all then a great way to start the day reviewing. I’ve been waiting for Emeli to truly knock my socks off and here she’s done that and then some. Definitely worth a listen.

7.5/10 – One of the best she’s released yet.


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