Share & Connect
The debut album from Critics’ Choice winner Emeli Sande more than meets expectation
Since her appearance on Later With Jools Holland in September 2011, Emeli Sandé has been one to watch on the British music scene. After being named as the recipient of the Critics’ Choice Award at the 2012 BRIT Awards- a title won previously by such acts as Adele and Florence + the Machine- expectations were high for her first studio release “Our Version of Events,” which was released this past Monday.
Sandé’s album mixes everything from dance to hip-hop, with a single thread of continuity provided by her mesmerizing vocals. Opening with her hit debut single “Heaven,” and closing with “Read All About It (Pt. III)- a continuation of her chart-topping collaboration with Professor Green- “Our Version of Events” sees Sandé tackling well-worn themes of heartbreak, regret and new beginnings in ways which feel authentic, and refreshingly uncontrived.
Lending itself to this authenticity is the fact that Sandé either wrote or co-wrote every single track on the album, demonstrating that she was not intimidated by the contributions of established artists such as Alicia Keys, with whom Sandé worked on the album’s penultimate track, “Hope.”
Admittedly, Sandé’s debut will suffer in some circles, in light of its repeated exploration of lost love and mending hearts. Following what has come to be dubbed as the Year of Adele, Sandé’s repeated exploration of emotions stemming from lost love might cause one or two spectators to yawn.
However, after listening to the record in its entirety, there is no denying that she has produced something of significant merit. This is achieved by the way in which Sandé embeds many of her personal experiences into her lyrics. In “Maybe,” for example, she sings about the final days of a previous relationship:
When we first moved in together/Couldn’t keep hands off each other
Now we’re lying back to back/And silence in the black
We use to laugh until we cried/You would look at me and smile
Now we hardly say hello/And feelings never show
But it is in “Clown” that this album hits its peak. A stripped-back number, “Clown” lets Sandé’s voice shine as she lays bare the disrespect she has endured at the hands of an unnamed individual. Whether the average listener was exposed to Sandé through the feel-good- albeit formulaic- dance hit “Heaven,” or through her supporting role on Professor Green’s aforementioned track, “Clown” dispels any doubt over whether she can captivate her audience. On this track, she captivates- and then some.
It was a genius move by Sandé to close the album with her melodic, sweeping variation of “Read All About It.” Perhaps following in the footsteps of collaborator Alicia Keys, who released her own broken-down version of Jay-Z’s hit song Empire State of Mind, Sandé takes full possession and breathes new life into Green’s over-played track, leaving the listener reeling from her confident, no-holds-barred lyrical message.
With all the promise that this debut offering has to offer, it will be an exciting year for Sandé, beginning with her much-anticipated appearance at next Tuesday’s BRIT Awards, during which she will both perform and take to the stage to accept her Critics’ Choice Award. With an additional nomination in the category of British Breakthrough Artist, it would appear that “Our Version of Events” is a delicious and thoroughly enchanting taste of what is to come from this young performer.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/beaconradio/