album review | R&B

Emile Sandé, ‘Our Version of Events’

Rarely does a pop debut come as fully realized as this one from the Scottish singer-songwriter. Already heralded in England, Sandé proves to be a stylish vocalist and a savvy songwriter. Despite the grandiose opener, “Heaven,” the set is the work of a confident pop formalist. The songs are artfully arranged and produced by the singer’s collaborator, Naughty Boy. “My Kind of Love” is a plaintive piano-based ballad while “Suitcase” is a lovely acoustic narrative about a failed relationship. Her obvious influence is revealed on “Hope,” which was co-written and produced by Alicia Keys. Sandé lacks the polish and vulnerability of her mentor, but she still brings her unique charms to the song. She falters on “Mountains,” where the layers of strings can’t cover up for mundane lyrics. While some tracks fall into a mid-tempo lull (“River” aches to be an “American Idol” staple), most are R&B-laced tunes with brains and verve. (Out Tuesday)
Ken Capobianco