Emeli Sandé: Our Version of Events

Posted March 6, 2013 by in Pop



2.5/ 5


Genre: ,
Producer: , , , , , , , , ,
Label: ,
Genre: Pop, R&B
Producer: Naughty Boy, Craze & Hoax, Mike Spencer, Emile Haynie, Paul Herman, Ash Millard, Mojam, Alicia Keys, Gavin Powell, TommyD
Label: Virgin, EMI
Format: CD, digital download
Time: 48:56
Release Date: 10 February 2012, (digital)
Spin This: "Next to Me," "My Kind of Love"


Songwriting is her strongest suit, the pleasant vocals is her next best weapon


Not enough soul and stamina inside to consider this groundbreaking

Latest UK soul import shows signs of breakthrough promise

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Latest UK soul import shows signs of breakthrough promise

Scottish-born newcomer Emeli Sandé has been getting a lot of open praise from a litany of stars from Elton John, Jay-Z and Simon Cowell on down, and she’s definitely on some kind of award-winning streak akin to Adele on her side of the pond (she recently recorded a live album at Royal Albert Hall, like Adele did in 2011). The folks at EMI are hoping that that level of notoriety will translate well in the States. There’s good reason why her debut album, Our Version of Events, will break some ground here. She looks stunning and her vocals are the kind that will make simple singers like Keyshia Cole and Tamar Braxton a bit nervous. She’s a singer/songwriter with the dress code of an Ann Taylor-designed diva performing in a r&b environment. Her and Shahid Khan construct much of the content on the disc on their own, occasionally bringing in hip producers (Naughty Boy) and also soliciting the help of Alicia Keys to crank out tranquil piano ballad (“Hope”). Everything looks good on paper, but what works on one side of the pond doesn’t always translate the same on the other side of the pond.

Many of the tracks settle too comfortably in a lane of common place. For starters, the euphoria of gospel choirs, occasional horn blasts and the deep house beats on the Mike Spencer-produced opener “Heaven” hardly resembles a club banger as she settles in a lather of quasi-Beyonce’ balladry on verse and tries too hard to turn a tiresome chorus into something awe-inspiring.

For the better part of the disc, Sandé loves a decent sing-a-long chorus and likes to bathe her pipes in a bubble bath of pop ideas. “My Kind of Love” showcases Mariah elevation while embossed in a dreamy landscape of ambient production. What it lacks is thunderous drumming to bite deep into Top 40 status. Despite its sweet appearance, the popular single “Next to Me” plays like a very worn tune; just string together Laura Izibor’s “From My Heart to Yours” with more of a pop gospel grind and this what you’ll get. It doesn’t crumble under the pressures of being unoriginal, but rather lacks the curvature to sound triumphant. Much of the content aboard the one word-titled songs try to paint Sandé as an across-the-board versatile artist, going from Alicia Keys soul (“Maybe”) to string-conscious pop (“Daddy,” “Mountains”) to ‘70’s singer-songwriter exercises (“River,” “Suitcase”). After a while the code becomes too easy to crack: The intros become too predictable; the Leona Lewis comparisons starts to rear its ugly head; there’s very little room for her to sound raw, even emotional. Thanks to her mighty pen, Sandé can soar beyond the status quo of the average r&b singer using lyrics like “I’ll be your clown behind the glass/Go ‘head and laugh ‘cause it’s funny/I would too if I saw me.” It’s practically the only majestic thing working overtime on her behalf.

Sure, there are plenty of good songs here; there’s even enough C-4 inside to create the ultimate breakout artist. Unfortunately, in today’s world of smart marketing, the right team can dress up something so easily accessible and ordinary into something ornate. There’s more hype surrounding this package of music than what the package itself entails. Once you dig below the surface, you only wish the collection – still wrestling with demo aftershocks – had a more grandiose polish, or some of that Adele rawness. Yeah, you had to know that was coming.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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