Emeli Sande, “Our Version of Events” (Capitol)
For at least the next year or so, every U.K. female singer who has a soulful voice and favors ballads has to deal with an unenviable fate — being compared with fellow Brit Adele.
That’s what Emeli Sande is facing with her debut, “Our Version of Events.” It doesn’t help that Emeli Sande’s real name is Adele — she started using her middle name when the current queen of pop became a sensation. Also like Adele, Sande has some mournful, heart-wrenching tunes in her repertoire. And like Adele, Sande is a gifted songwriter, co-writing all 14 tracks (including the last song, the gripping “Hope,” with Alicia Keys) on her album.
And finally, like Adele, she makes brilliant music. But what will make her a sensation is that she has a sound that is distinctly her own. While her piercing soprano is reminiscent of a lot of R&B and pop singers (perhaps most like Tamia’s), what sets Emeli apart is her material. “Our Version of Events” is a stunning collection of songs that creatively and imaginatively express age-old themes like heartache, love and more. “Suitcase” is a quivering song about a lover who walks out the door with no explanation. On the stark and beautiful “Breaking the Law,” Sande expresses her devotion to her man by offering to do a litany of criminal acts. And “River,” in which she offers to be a guide, is a gorgeous, piano-based track that is as majestic as its words.
There’s not one throwaway song on the album, just song after song that are must-listens. And yes, that’s another instance where she’s like Adele — or better yet, like Emeli Sande.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: On the sweeping “Maybe,” Sande attempts to find a resolution for a relationship at a stalemate — whether it involves reconciliation or breakup.