A poignant, mystical track that exposes Sandé personality and cleverly employs the use of spoken narrative
The second track after ‘Hurts‘ to be lifted from Long Live The Angels, ‘Garden’ provides a rather different musical experience from what we typically expect from Emeli Sandé, opening and closing with spoken word passages from Áine Zion and bridged with a rap from the elusive Jay Electronica to give the song great variation. Sandé’s calmer vocal gives the track a mystical feel against a relaxing beat, though the sparse, sharper points ensure that attention is retained rather than it simply blurring into the background. Sandé has said that the song’s aim was to open herself up, saying that “[‘Garden’] feels like it’s me telling the truth, but kind of showing all sides of me this time.”
As typical with Sandé, the reflections of the song are poignant, with the titular ‘Garden’ being established as a both a metaphor for a type of nurturing love and also potentially damaging. At the end, however, she concludes that love becomes a relaxing but scary place (“Once outside these prison walls / To believe again is scary / Your garden is my sanctuary”). This message is elaborated by the impactful narrative sections (“I’m not telling you to love what I love / I’m asking you to take the time to know who it is you love and are in love with”) which, much like in Beyoncé’s ‘***Flawless’ with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, are used well to tell the morals and to break the song up. It is an uncommon and extremely effective tool, however the disruption provided by the rap section does feel a little jarring. While clearly used to create effect, Jay Electronica’s portion excessively disrupts the overall flow of the song and I have a suspicion that a version with Sandé and Zion alone would have resonated better.
‘Garden’ is out now via Virgin EMI