Emeli Sandé and collaborators Jay Electronica and Áine Zion meditate on the meaning of love and nurturing it in the Scottish singer’s new song, “Garden,” which she premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1’s show on Thursday.
Over a sultry, sparse backbeat weaved between snapped rhythms, the song opens with Áine Zion’s poetry before Sandé’s soulful singing begs to “Let me love/ Let me touch,” she croons. “We can give it up/ Let me drink from the fountain.”
On the chorus, her voice soars as she gives into desires. “Ooh, I’m ready/ Ooh, don’t stop,” she coos.
Jay Electronica’s stream-of-consciousness bars contemplate love, the world’s sometimes seemingly indifference to it and the fear of yielding to the emotion. “Love is like a Ferris Wheel/ Love is like a rollercoaster/ Love is at a standstill/ Body after body after body/ It’s a minefield.”
After giving a nod to Prince with his “Purple Rain love” line, the rapper compares love to a garden, a death sentence and also a pardon before ultimately concluding that “Once outside these prison walls/ To believe again is scary/ Your garden is my sanctuary.”
In Sandé’s interview with Mac, she explained that the song was written a couple years ago. Zion performed her parts in New York, and then sent them to Sandé in London, where she and producer Chris Loco continued to work on the track. They met Jay Electronica the next summer, who then contributed his verses. She said the process was freeing and it “felt like destiny, the different parts of the songs coming together.”
The song hails from her sophomore album, Long Live the Angels. The follow-up to 2012’s Our Version of Events, Sandé told Mac that her new material is “very honest … I think people will definitely know exactly who I am once they’ve listened to this album,” she said. “And even though ‘Garden’ is quite different, I still feel like it’s me telling the truth, but kind of showing all sides of me this time.”
Long Live the Angels will be released on November 11th via Capitol.