Emeli Sande
Our Version Of Events



by Nick Butler EMERITUS
April 10th, 2012 | 16 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Liked the singles? This probably isn't for you.

What a weird album, given the context of "Heaven" being the first single. That track may have been a little mushy and flimsy at heart, but it was elevated into something special by its genuinely pained melody and its quasi-trip-hop, "Unfinished Sympathy"-aping production. It's a song where the virtues outweigh the vices so comprehensively that those vices become irrelevant. So why does the rest of Our Version of Events dispense with those virtues entirely?

Disappointingly, Our Version of Events, with the exceptions of "Heaven" and "Daddy", is as flimsy and mushy as they come. If anything about those singles appealed to you - their darkness, their dramatic sweep, their sleek '90s throwback production, their twinning of pop soul songwriting with dinner party dance breaks, basically anything other than Sandé's voice - then you can rest assured that you won't find it in anything else on this album. The rest is syrupy, slow, and melodramatic, the kind of songs that could slot into An Evening With Barbara Streisand and not feel out of place (although Alicia Keys at her dullest is probably a better reference point - she turns up on the dreary "Hope" to reinforce the link). To put her alongside another Brit Critic's Award winner, imagine if "Rolling in the Deep" had been the first track on 19 - that's the kind of chasm in sound and quality we're talking about here.

In fairness to Sandé and her producers, it's worth nothing that Our Version of Events could be a lot more bland than it actually is. There's a splash of diversity in the ballads that dominate the album, with the strings from "Heaven" left intact on a few numbers, and the instrumentation varying between guitars, pianos, and soft electronics. This most basic of touches is enough to stop it being a completely plodding, classless affair. Sandé is an intriguing lyricist too, one with a storyteller's flair for balancing intentional vagueness with very specific minutiae; it's a balance that feels intimate and confessional, but allows room to fill in enough details from your own life to make it feel like it was written just for you. It's a trick the best songwriters have been using for decades, of course, but that shouldn't take the shine off the fact that Sandé does it very well, even if she occasionally overcooks it (the worst offender being "Clown").

Maybe the music's biggest failing, then, is that it really lets down her words. If you really force yourself to focus on what she's saying, then you could easily fall under Our Version's spell - but with so many albums out there that do the same thing but better, why would you ever force yourself? Sandé does just about enough on here to show that she's worth caring about, but she's going to have to be a lot more smart and adventurous, and a lot less middle-of-the-road, before she'll be able to make people care. The sound she's settled into right now is doing her no favours at all.

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user ratings (27)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 10th 2012


Heaven reminds me of 'Cold War' by Janelle Monae except I don't find it nearly as good.
I still want to give this a listen though, just curiosity.

April 10th 2012


Spot on review, nailed it.

April 10th 2012


Album Rating: 2.5

The last sentence more or less sums up how I feel about this, excellent review. I did think that the Adele dig was a little unneccessary though.

I also agree with the Janelle Monae comparison. If she'd recieved the amount of industry backing that Emile Sande has she'd be absolutely massive by now.

April 10th 2012


Shame, I had pretty high hopes for this. Just goes to show. Nice write-up.

April 11th 2012


Can't see how Heaven would remind you of Cold War to be honest Steo, totally different vibe to it I think. Yet to listen to this but I have a feeling that I would think the same as you mate, which is a shame because she's really got a lot of potential.

April 11th 2012


Really? I dunno, first thing I thought of when I heard the song. =P
Going to have a listen to this album over the weekend for sure, see if I'll like it. =)

April 11th 2012


Heaven has got that 90's feel a la massive attack and also mid 90's dance for me. Cold War is more immediate and upbeat, but they're both wicked tracks so it doesn't really matter.

Great review by the way Mr. Butler

April 13th 2012


So, I got around to listening to it.
I see what you mean. =P
It feels very 'safe'.

April 13th 2012


i still liked this album. 2.5 is kinda harsh for me if it didnt suck. probably give it a 3. i love her voice and that helps some of the "safe" songwriting

April 14th 2012


I'm between a 2.5 and a 3 right now. A lot of filler here but still, Heaven is great. If I continue to listen to it more than once a week then that says a lot more than a bunch of my 3.5's, let alone my 2.5's.

April 16th 2012


I liked the singles but the album really disappointed me.

Staff Reviewer
August 19th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

Following in the footsteps of Adele & Jessie J, Scottish born 24 year old singer-songwriter Emeli Sande follows up her Brits’ Critics Choice Award with a promising, if inconsistent, debut LP. Beginning with 2 of its highlight singles, 'Our Version of Events' occasionally plays it too safe with accessible, heartbreak-themed soul-pop ballads. At 49 minutes, tracks 11 through 13 could easily have been edited out without forsaking diversity or failing to showcase Sande's phenomenally controlled vocals. Thankfully, the many special moments here make up for the album's flaws. Recommended Tracks: Read All About It (Part III), Heaven, My Kind of Love & Next To Me.

August 19th 2012


I think I've said this before but 'Heaven' reminds me so much of Janelle Monae's 'Cold War'.

January 6th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

I love this album very much. You can just feel her emotion behind every song and her voice is beautiful. I definitely feel like she should be in the music review sites of "Top Albums of 2012" instead of Lana Del Rey, Sharon Van Etten, and Jessie Ware. It's all pure taste of course, but I find this album amazing.

April 29th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

it's sappy af but i love "mountains" tbh

April 29th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

"read all about it (pt. III)" is great too!

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