Melodrama all over the place. Leona Lewis is crying her eyes out, clutching her toothpaste, and with good reason. She has a competitor now, coming from the fine print of British song-writing. She's called Emeli Sandé, a twenty-something with a more original hairdo than Leona’s and with a track record writing for such diverse artists as broken toy Susan Boyle, people's princess Cheryl Cole and even Lewis herself. Word has it Sandé left medical school to write about her misfortunes in love, and boy, did she ever. After several collaborations with Tinie Tempah and Chipmunk (though the most notorious one was “Read All About It”, with Professor Green, featured here as the closing track, redone on her own), now the artist is enjoying watching her audience reach for the Kleenex over and over again. Emeli Sandé is something of an aesthetically more modern Adele who doesn't want her music to be played at old people's homes or hairdressing salons specialising in 19th-century coifs. She wants to sound modern, she impresses with her appearance, and she has given Beyoncé a right hook by proving that you can make an album of ballads that doesn't force the listener to slit their wrists (the scars from the self-inflicted injuries after listening to that Tina Turner nightmare called “4” are still visible).
Yes, Sandé sucker-punched with that tribute to “Unfinished Sympathy” used as an appetiser for this album. “Heaven” is still an anthem to dance to with tears in your eyes, but what we didn't expect was that our inner drama queen would enjoy the rest of the album, consisting of ballads falling somewhere between a Eurovision song contest final and any Disney picture. She gives us plenty of reasons to consider her one of the great white hopes of mainstream mid-tempo music: bombastic, almost orgiastic strings, but with the epic under control ( “Mountains” and “Daddy”, the latter featuring Naughty Boy, the main producer of the album), dishing out beauties that would make any wannabe folk chick's head spin ( “Breaking The Law”) and perfectly imitating Florence + The Machine ( “Next To Me”). If we have so far been able to walk the streets with our heads held high after religiously swallowing up other mainstream products, we can certainly do so after hearing this record.