Monday, June 11, 2012


Okay, pop fans, can you name the British soul and R'n'B singer currently topping the U.K. charts with her new album, has already had a couple of chart-topping singles, and won the Critic's Choice Award for 2012 at the BRIT's.  Alicia Keys is writing songs with her for her next album, Coldplay got her to open up for them on their last tour, and Simon Cowell calls her his favourite songwriter of the moment.  Hell, even Susan Boyle has recorded one of her songs.

You guessed Adele, didn't you?  Geez, so behind the times.  Remember, these Brits usually take a year or so to break over here.  No, this new household name belongs to Emeli Sande, who hails from Scotland, and is winning over audiences and critics with her sound.  Relatively young at 24, for the past couple of years she's been impressing the right people by writing a bunch of tunes that have gone on the charts for soul singers and rappers, plus dropping in for guest vocals and TV shows, working the wow factor.  She certainly seems like the real package.  Co-writing each song on this debut, its mature and diverse, and sounds like somebody well into a career, instead of just starting.

She can go from the big beats and dance-soul of the #2 U.K. single Heaven, which opens this album, to the acoustic guitar-with-strings tracks Suitcase and Breaking The Law, which see her reach for raw intimacy, as a devotee of Joni Mitchell.  There are two versions of Next To Me, a huge hit earlier this year in England, the first with pounding drums making it a big dance floor number, whereas the second recasts it as a ballad, becoming a hymn to, gasp!, a faithful lover. 

I gotta be honest, it's a little too glossy, and heavily produced, influenced by all the usual pop trends of the last decade, but its miles ahead of the banality of Beyonce, for instance.  She can sing for sure, and write even better.  And guess what?  Her real first name?  Adele.

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