Ever since Adele’s blockbuster year in 2011, where she dominated the pop charts and seemed to reawaken people’s joy of buying music, record companies have been knocking down doors to find the next big voice. Fortunately for all of us, another Adele (actually born Adele Emeli Sandé) may have been discovered just a country away, in Scotland.
The twenty-four year old Scot, who had potential to hit it big back in her teens, ended up going to school for a degree in medicine, and has only just now come back to record her debut album. During that time, she must have found some serious maturity and songwriting ability, because Our Version of Events sounds like someone who’s been banging out number one records for years.
Not only does she sing beautifully, but unlike most pop stars out there today, she writes her own music. In fact, she has also written tunes for artists like Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle, and rapper Tinie Tempah. Ms. Sandé has already become quite a smash in Britain, and her February release over there is certified platinum, reaching number one on the UK charts and battling back and forth with Adele’s 21. Finally available here, Emeli Sandé’s powerful vocals, reminiscent of her influences, Nina Simone and Alicia Keys, are put to excellent use over the fourteen track debut disc.
“Heaven” starts the album off with a hypnotic backbeat, and will fit in on U.S. radio quite nicely. It’s more R&B/Soul than Adele, but a little more retro vibe than Beyonce, giving it a familiarity, but also a uniqueness all its own. She sings on the track of aiming for heaven, but falling short and making mistakes along the way, still hoping there’s a chance for her. On the darker “My Kind of Love,” she shows off her soulful side and promises a lover unabashed loyalty, and it’s a definite highlight of the disc.
“Clown” and “Maybe” are both showstoppers, much in the same vein as ballads like Beyonce’s version of “Listen,” but then Sandé brings the beat back for “Daddy.” She doesn’t have many on the disc like this one, but I’d love to see her explore this throwback style much more in the future as it’s an incredible tune.
Side two of Events is much more insightful and thought-provoking, as there is a definite shift to more piano-driven songs and ballads. “River” sings of a stability and consistency that can be depended on, in and out of storms, while “Hope” beautifully yearns for a future where people “start seeing forever instead of what we can gain in a day” and “taking a chance on loving” others.
Her maturity and wisdom speak volumes, and with her gorgeous set of pipes, I could just keep on listening. She never seems to go all diva on the microphone, and show off the extent of what she can do with runs and so forth, but her pure, controlled voice is a pleasure to listen to, backed up against catchy beats and thoughtful lyrics. You can catch her on tour with Coldplay this summer, and if she’s given a proper chance here in the States, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more from this new star in the near future.
Try This Track: “My Kind of Love”