Great Scot! Emeli Sandé shines at New York’s Webster Hall
The neo-soul singer-songwriter brings an outsized voice and energy to court U.S. fans
By Larry Gilchrist
Special to MSN Music
Soul music has long been known for big voices and even bigger attitudes. But that’s not the case with newcomer Emeli Sandé. As she took the stage at New York City’s legendary Webster Hall, the unassuming 25-year-old United Kingdom native looked like any other Brooklyn hipster you might see in her audience – with her blonde femme 'hawk, polka-dot blouse and pencil skirt – until she opened her mouth.
Already one of 2012’s biggest breakouts in the U.K., Sandé caught the ears of critics and fans alike last year with her debut single "Next To Me." The former medical student at the University of Glasgow has an effortlessly powerful voice that is both serene and emotive when she opens her set with the break beat-driven "Heaven" – which also opens her freshman album "Our Version of Events." By the time she and her band – a four-piece that included a bassist, drummer, keyboardist and guitarist – were finished with the first track, Sandé knew she was among true fans. "I want to share my stories with you and hopefully they become your stories as well," she told the crowd before going into the anthemic "Tiger."
Despite her demure personality, Sandé bobbed and weaved on the stage like a pugilist, performing as if she was going toe to toe with the music. From roots reggae-tinged "Where I Sleep" to "Breaking The Law" – a track she dedicated to her sister – Sandé never ceased to impress the audience with her energy and vocal dexterity.
Sandé's one-hour set left little to be desired, but the highlights definitely included the subdued "Suitcase," which she performed accompanied only by her bassist, and the defiant "My Kind Of Love." She closed the show with "Next To Me," the debut single that first brought her attention, and proved to be her biggest stateside single to date.
There are quite a few soulsters have invaded the U.S. shores over the last few years, and while she may not have the flash of some – Emeli Sandé definitely has the pipes to really plant roots in American soil.