The first time I saw Emeli Sande was at a Sony Ericsson sponsored party in Aqua Kyoto. I was hooked before I knew anything about her. I had heard her song ‘Heaven’ on the radio a couple of times, but didn’t know much more than that. I was floored by her performance – in the middle of this crowded room, full of people talking, she just went for it. It didn’t take long for people to take notice.
The second time I was fortunate enough to meet her was at the launch of the Somerset House ice rink, where she turned on the lights and put on another incredible show. Again, I knew I was witnessing something very special. I felt so privileged to say speak briefly with her after the show, and was pleased to learn she was a fellow Scot, and genuinely lovely person.
My third encounter was not in her presence, but while I was at an audition for the Olympic games opening ceremony a couple of days ago. ‘Heaven’ was blasted out at full volume, and it struck me just what an anthem it was. It occurred to me that it would be perfect for use in the opening ceremony of London 2012 (it was also used during the 2012 London New Year firework display). It is a very emotive and powerful piece of music, and only hints at the great things to come.
I listened to her new album ‘Our Version of Events’ the other night, and was almost moved to tears. It’s wonderful. Full to bursting with soul, it is impeccably produced and written – suggesting a considerable support from the record label. Mixing gospel choirs, strings and pianos with acoustic numbers, this is a showcase for a singer on the edge of stardom.
A range of styles are explored, and her voice is discovered through the 14 tracks. The incredibly emotional ‘Clown’, with minor chords that guide you through the saddest circus in town, to the more uplifting and optimistic ‘River’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Maybe’, with strings that make you think everything will be OK in the end. To me, an obvious choices for a future single would be either ‘Suitcase’ with a killer hook and the most memorable chorus on the album, or ‘Lifetime’ which adds an old school hip hop beat to a song about the impermanence of love. Her voice hits high notes in the same way as demonstrated in ‘Heaven’, making it a very ambitious choice for a karaoke number. At the more acoustic end of things, ‘Breaking the Law’ is a simple and beautiful song, which has an odd tendency of sounding as if it is about to morph into ‘All Night Long’ by Alexandra Burke. The album closes with a beautiful acoustic version of ‘Read All About It’, following a recent tradition of stripping down successful urban collaborations on a solo album, as demonstrated by Rihanna’s ‘Love the way you lie pt. 2’.
You must listen to this album and familiarise yourself with a new British superstar, who I predict will be with us in full swing by summer 2012.
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