Urban Contemporary, 2012
The year 2012 is certainly a glorious one for Emeli Sandé. After writing tunes for a diverse range of acts from Chipmunk to Susan Boyle, she decides to step into the spotlight with her debut effort Our Version of Events. What makes her wait so long? She has a powerful and distinctive voice – think Beyoncé Knowles with extra lung power.
Oh, and before I go on, do note that I am listening to the “Special Edition”, which is actually a reissue of the debut album with several new tracks. I may just mention some songs here that are not found in the original edition.
Heaven is Ms Sandé’s big hit in 2011, but while it is very catchy, it reminds me too much of Massive Attack for its own good. That’s actually a foreshadowing of how this album has some of the best hooks and production values in town, but there is really nothing here that makes these songs the distinct property of Emeli Sandé. Still, that doesn’t matter much in the long run.
When Ms Sandé hits the dance floor, the results are fantastic. Daddy is a stormy and dramatic song with great killer hooks that only underscores the futility of a toxic love affair. There are a great number of songs here with fabulous bass lines and throbbing beats to keep the adrenaline going.
Slowing down the tempo keeps bringing on the good times as well. Actually, I find that I prefer the more mellow and introspective songs here, and I certainly hope that is not a sign of aging, sigh. At any rate, the slower songs are just gorgeous on the ears.
Suitcase is a tender and bittersweet song about how sometimes a love affair can break down despite one’s best efforts, while Breaking the Law is an exquisitely gorgeous song about the crazy and insane things love can make one do. The tender but fierce defiance resonating through Ms Sandé’s rich vocals in the latter sends chills down my spine. River is a lovely rallying cry for quiet hearts that contain big hopes and aspirations, and her take on Professor Green’s Read All About It (which she helped write) is just fabulous. Unfortunately, Read All About It isn’t going to stop being compared to Eminem’s Love the Way You Lie anytime soon. Again, the pesky lack of distinct identity on these songs that mark them the untouchable hot property of Emeli Sandé.
Well, there is plenty of time for Emeli Sandé to figure out what sounds she’d like to embrace as hers. For now, I’d be busy listening and dancing. This is easily one of my favorite records of the year.