Emeli Sande - Our Version Of Events

Adele has found herself a rival… in another Adele.

Label: Virgin

Rating: 8

If there is one thing that endures in music, it is the appetite for soulful, straightforward, no-frills female singer-songwriters with huge voices. Given the recent loss of Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston, this void is bigger than ever. However, while Adele is being groomed to inherit this place in the pop kingdom, she faces stiff competition from some amazing young talent emerging out of the UK. One of these artists, coincidentally, is Adele Emeli Sandé, otherwise known as just Emeli Sandé.

Album opener and first single, ‘Heaven’ is sublime in the true sense of the word, and its thrilling mix of drum’n’bass and soul hits the alternative UK music zeitgeist right on the head. Sandé’s weary vocals soar and give her youthful lament an anthemic quality. Simply stunning.

However, ‘Heaven’ is also quite misleading in terms of the tone of the album as the rest of ‘Our Version Of Events’ is more traditional R&B and occasionally gravitates towards orchestra-driven ballads. Now, for someone who is compelled to buy this album based on the strength of ‘Heaven’, this may be a bit disappointing but they can rest assured that Sandé has the vocal marksmanship and character to pull it all off. ‘Maybe’, ‘My Kind Of Love’, and ‘Mountains’ channel Beyonce’s ‘Halo’; ballads with a propulsive hip-hop drumbeat that give the songs more weight.

However, the album’s highlight is not a particular song, but Sandé’s impeccable vocal performance. She sings smoothly with a slight scratch, but it’s a beautiful imperfection. Everything sounds effortless but not less passionate as a result. Lyrically, the album is unsubtle and that’s fine. Sandé’s performance makes the album’s unintentionally giggle inducing moments still endearing (mainly the mental image that ‘Clown’ evokes).

Ultimately, as beautiful as it is in its more subdued moments, the album feels fully realised when her alternative and mainstream instincts find each other as they do on tracks like ‘Heaven’ and ‘Daddy’. It is obvious through her list of collaborators that she has mass appeal and with time, she will develop the savvy and world-weariness to make a true classic.

Your level of engagement with ‘Our Version Of Events’ will depend on your predilection towards R&B ballads. However, what is objectively ascertainable is the promise that Sandé as a performer shows.