Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Emeli Sandé - Our Version of Events

The awards and accolades have already started pouring in for Emeli Sandé and her debut album, 'Our Version of Events', has only just been released. But is it worthy of such praise?

In a word: no. Her career history has followed a similar trajectory to Jessie J or Adele, not least because her first name is in fact Adele. Like Jessie J, she has spent the last few years writing songs for other artists and also appeared on a few - from Chipmunk's Diamond Rings to, recently, Professor Green's Read All About It. And like Adele, the focus of her material is her soulful vocal and songwriting ability.

The album opens with Sandé's debut single Heaven (see video below). It's the most progressive track, the breakbeat drums lifting the strings and mysterious downbeat lyrics from dirge territory. Later, second single Daddy features similarly standout production, whilst recent release Next To Me offers the only upbeat track of the bunch. And the rest? Sandé wallows from ballad to ballad in an increasingly repetitive mire of sorrow.

Individually, there are some beautiful moments: the delicate guitar intro of Mountains, the heartbreaking chorus metaphor of Suitcase, the subtle vocal harmonies of Breaking the Law, the gritty production of My Kind of Love, or the playful feel of Where I Sleep. There is an honesty and a rawness to the lyrics and Sande's indisputably powerful vocal soars and cracks with emotive colour. The trouble is that the songs are too similar for any particular elements to really stand out, all smooth guitar and piano arpeggios. There's no boundary pushing and, like Jessie J's 'Who You Are', it often sounds more like a songwriting portfolio than a complete album - her songs could just as easily be sung by Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis et al. Sandé is a fresh talent but, in totality, there's just not enough variety on this album for the power ballads to retain their power.


Gizzle's Choice:
* My Kind of Love
* Suitcase

Listen: 'Our Version of Events' is available now.

Watch: Sande will be performing on her UK tour in April.