It goes without saying that Emeli Sandé is something a bit special – fresh off the success of her No. 1-scoring collab with Professor Green and her Top 10 arriving track Heaven, she’s releasing her first album in a few weeks and us very lucky folks here at MP! got to listen to it – but is it all worth it or has Ms Sandé let us down at the last minute?
Our Version of Events has become one of the most anticipated releases of 2012 and thankfully it more than lives up to the ‘hype’ – the released singles sound just as fresh and ear-snaggingly awesome as they were the first time we heard them; Heaven is the club classic topped with soaring, plaintive vocals more delicious than a slice of pizza after a night out while new single Next To Me is a warm and upbeat tune which promises a spring in your step (and which will no doubt be on many ‘happy it’s spring’ playlists come its release) with every drumbeat; and Daddy‘s hypnotically enveloping tale of the wrong kind of fella has a chorus that is simply stunning and demands the ‘repeat’ button’s attention.
The new tracks are just as astonishingly good – My Kind of Love is the kind of midtempo, emotional balladry that most artists would kill for while the piano-led Clown deals with insecurities; Breaking The Law sees intense love as a crime while Suitcase ventures into folk territory and emerges well and Where I Sleep leads the way for a classical-lite track about being a romantic sanctuary. The themes of Our Version of Events are steadfast too – namely relationships and the ending or enjoyment of them; River uses an oceanic metaphor to describe the power of love while Maybe describes the end of a relationship and Mountains channels some Leona Lewis-esque vibes to deftly turn the pursuit of love into something resembling an epic Bond theme song (our tip for this year’s Skyfall movie, we reckon).
Fortunately, the back end of the album switches things up a little, as most of the album’s tracks are midtempo at best – the jaunty Lifetime deals with the ever-changing nature of life whilst treading the line between downbeat and uplifting; Hope borrows the ‘let’s change a theme’ from Jacko’s Heal The World and makes it an ode for global change that neatly sidesteps schmaltzy; and the album’s closer is the superb Read All About It (Pt III) which turns her chart-topping collaboration into a near-acapella solo ballad about speaking out and making your voice count that knocks Rihanna’s take on Love The Way You Lie into silver position easier than RiRi throws out a cheeky four-letter expletive.
Ultimately, Emeli Sandé’s first album isn’t perfect – a few more uplifting or upbeat tracks could have been placed to give the album a sense of brevity amidst the darker subject matter. Fortunately, every track here is crafted so well and given such gorgeous vocals it’s impossible to begrudge it that – scarier is the fact that this is her baby steps musically: by the time Album No. 2 rolls around, I think we’ll all be in rightful awe. Adele who?