"Thank you for taking a chance on new music," Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé said Tuesday during her sold-out show at Lincoln Hall. While it's true she's relatively new to these shores, Sandé has garnered accolades at home. Her UK-chart-topping "Our Version of Events" debut album was released here in June, but the push for the soulful pop singer here has just begun. At Lincoln Hall, she earnestly explained inspirations behind songs to an audience that was obviously quite familiar, singing along through the set.
Sandé's had an amazing run in the past year. She won the BRITs Critics' Choice Award (this year she's nominated for four BRIT Awards, more than any other nominee), performed at the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies, and she closed out 2012 with the top-selling UK album. She has also written songs for artists such as
It was evident at Lincoln Hall that she has the vocal chops to earn the praise preceding her. Backed by a four-piece band, she began with "Heaven," her belted, soulful inflections buoyed by percolating rhythms. Other upbeat numbers, such as the hand-clapped-enhanced "Breaking The Law" and rousing "Next To Me," showcased how adaptable her voice is; she acrobatically moved from powerful gospel vibes to vulnerable tones.
However, not all of her material was as compelling, where repetition too often stood in for hooks. Ballads in particular were less on the mark. Whereas "Suitcase" -- performed with a spare arrangement different than the album -- seared with a passionate delivery and sounded like a vintage track, songs such as "River" and the restrained "Mountains" never seemed to take flight. Both housed redundant and cliché lyrics. "Wonder" was catchy, but also leaned into overdramatic Broadway, Disney-styled territory.
"Read All About It, Pt. III" built to a chorus crescendo, but stopped short of the spine-tingly heights she's capable of hitting. Certainly, one of her gifts is the control she has over her captivating voice, but at times it felt like she wasn't letting fully loose. Coupled with some material that wasn't as emotional, the set fell slightly shy of her obvious potential. Still, when she did connect, which was most of the time, it was clear that her best likely lies just ahead.