Every now and then an artist comes along that stops you in your tracks, makes your jaw to drop to the floor and maybe causes you to pee in your pants just a little bit. All that and more happened at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last night as the lucky few in attendance witnessed the U.S. debut of Scottish soul and R&B singer songwriter Emeli Sande. Noted recently in Entertainment Weekly as the “next Adele,” I found it ironic that Sande’s full name is Adele Emeli Sande. While the styles and personalities are miles apart, the purity and perfection of the vocals are on par.
“I don’t know how you know about my music, but I’m glad you’re here,” she said before she started nodding to the fact that barely any of her music has been released in the U.S. “My set is acoustic because I love the lyrics and the melody,” she added. With that comment I was in love with her before she even started singing. But then she did — with the only single released here to date: “Heaven.” Everything but the pee had happened to me by now.
Songs I’ve never heard before, but can’t wait to hear again included “Daddy,” “Suitcase,” “Where I Sleep,” “Clown,” “My Kind of Love,” and “Breaking the Law,” which she wrote for her sister. That’s the song that conjured up a tear and maybe a little pee. So beautiful. I also loved “Mountains,” about the strength her parents gave her and her sister and the values they instilled in them. It’s so refreshing to hear an artist sing about things other than boys and booze. It was interesting to hear about how she got her break too. She covered Coldplay’s single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” with just her voice and an electric cello on video, which got the band’s attention and earned her an invitation to open their tour.
Aside from her spectacular voice, there were three things I took away that made me love her more: 1) the comfort and joy she conveys when telling the story of a song before she sings it; 2) the insightful, clear and honest intent of her lyrics suggests she’s a master storyteller in the making (and at just 24 years old); and 3) the restraint and control of her voice. Anyone who hears her knows she could, if she wanted, unleash that voice to the heavens and above, but she doesn’t. She holds back, takes you to the edge and pulls you back. She makes you want to beg her for more, and that I did. Now I have to wait until June 4.