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CD: Emeli Sandé - Our Version of Events | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Emeli Sandé - Our Version of Events

CD: Emeli Sandé - Our Version of Events

This year's Next Big Thing makes a sporadically impressive debut

Emeli Sandé: the sound of 2012?

Such is the nature of the music industry these days that artists are anointed even before they’ve released a record. So it has been with Emeli Sandé, a medical student from the north-east of Scotland who has not only bagged this year's BRITs Critics' Choice Award (former winners: Adele, Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding) but is, apparently, Simon Cowell’s favourite songwriter. Stop! Come back...

Such is the nature of the music industry these days that artists are anointed even before they’ve released a record. So it has been with Emeli Sandé, a medical student from the north-east of Scotland who has not only bagged this year's BRITs Critics' Choice Award (former winners: Adele, Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding) but is, apparently, Simon Cowell’s favourite songwriter. Stop! Come back...

Sandé has written for everyone from Leona Lewis and Tinie Tempah to Susan Boyle and Cher Lloyd, but it’s her voice that you’ll recognise from Professor Green’s recent number one “Read all About It” (which appears here as a piano ballad on an album hardly short of them) and lively recent single “Heaven”, which zings along like Massive Attack's “Unfinished Sympathy” on a speed buzz. 

So much for the CV. Is she any good? Her debut album is dynamic and confident, but burdened by an innate conservatism. Sandé arrives armed with bags of tunes, and she's also smart enough to realise that a singer with her gifts needn't make too much of a fuss about it. Her forte is emotionally engaged R&B, both retro (“Next to Me” is chunky old school soul, all horns and funky piano) and more modern. Soggy ballad “Hope” was written for Alicia Keys, and it’s within that realm of glossy, socially engaged, unthreateningly urbanised soul that Our Version of Events most frequently beds down. 

It's a classic first album, in the sense that it's intent on covering all the angles and not scaring the horses. At 14 tracks Our Version of Events sags badly. There’s a few too many platitudes, too many dreary ballads ("Clown", "River"), too many easy options, but there are also depths which suggest there could be interesting things to come if she allows her personality free rein. The raw “Breaking the Law” hits where it matters, "Suitcase" is a leaving song with a kick, while “Daddy” is a dark little drama you can whistle on the way to work. Sandé could go either way but she's clearly capable of fine things. Watch this space.

Watch "Daddy" by Emeli Sandé

It's a classic first album, in the sense that it's intent on covering all the angles and not scaring the horses

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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