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Album review: Emeli Sandé impresses with debut ‘Our Version of Events’

  Tuesday 24th January 2012

The talented singer-songwriter with the Frida Kahlo tattoo who is behind some of the biggest tracks of 2010, Emeli  Sandé,  is now stepping to the forefront  to release her debut solo album Our Version of Events – and she does not disappoint.

The hype that has followed Sandé since the release of her epic solo single Heaven has been unmissable; she has been heralded by Simon Cowell as his favourite new songwriter and has already performed with Coldplay and collaborated with some of the biggest names in R&B including Tinie Tempah, Professor Green and Chipmunk.

Our Version of Events is released by Virgin on 13th February

Not to mention she just beat out the likes of Maverick Sabre and Michael Kiwanuka to win 2012 Brit Critics Choice Award, following in the footsteps of Florence + the Machine, Jessie J and Adele.

Sandé’s talent is incontestable; this girl is headed for big things in 2012.

The Aberdonian songstress, born to a Zambian father and Cumbrian mother, credits Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone and Lauren Hill as some of her musical influences and these are apparent in her perfectly belted out, soulful and effortlessly cool album which manages to be both contemporary and timeless.

Our Version of Events is an album essentially about love, but not in the way you would typically expect. Sandé’s musings are much darker and feel mature in a way that transcends her 23 years. The love she sings about is a love of practicality, one which must stand up to the challenges of real life. Her lyrics reflect on what love actually means in a partnership and how it manifests itself in the every day.

The albums tracks materialize in a variety of styles, from My Kind of Love where Sandé’s voice echoes soulfully over a gospel like choir to enforce the powerful hold of love in spite of all of trials, to Mountains, a slower, more subdued track where Sandé employs a softer and more raspy tone accompanied by an orchestral-feeling backing track.  It’s reminiscent of nature and blowing winds, which perfectly complements the song’s subject of continuing a journey through life with your partner.

There are also a number of more upbeat tracks. Next To Me, one of my favourite tracks on the album, is bouncy and catchy with a repetitive rhythm and relentless melodic vocal reminiscent of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. Lifetime also provides some relief from the more shadowy tracks with its whimsical fairground-like tune and air of childlike innocence in its discussion of how so much in life is transitory but how someone you truly love is eternal.

The closing track Read All About It (part III) provides an elaborative counterpart to the number one single with Professor Green.  This track in particular seems to epitomise what the album is all about. Sandé’s voice powerfully resounds with the lyrics, “We are all wonderful people, when did we all become so fearful?

Our Version Of Events is a fitting title for an album which inspires and encourages individuals to come forward and be heard, to have belief in our own ideas, our own stories and experiences. Ultimately through her own intuitive self-awareness and empowered honesty, Sandé validates the individual’s right to be heard.

If you are expecting an album full of tracks like Heaven you will be greatly mistaken. Sandé’s songs are more like individual tales: each has a purpose and a meaning and many of them are dark – but the success of this album lies in the fact that in spite of all this there is no hint of cynicism or depression. Sandé beautifully manages to be inspirational, poignant and almost revolutionary.

Verdict: ••••

Mya Joel

Listen to Emeli Sandé’s new single Next To Me here

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