Wooden Emeli is all haircut and hype
Emeli Sande Our Version of Events (EMI)
"She was just getting bigger and bigger." When Emeli spoke about Adele, she wasn't doing a Karl Lagerfeld, commenting on the Chasing Pavements singer's frock size.
The Aberdeen singer was explaining why she dropped her first name, Adele, and started using her middle name. That was two years ago when Ms Sande was writing hits for the likes of Wiley and Chipmunk.
She's gone from strength to strength since then. That's if you regard having your songs recorded by Alesha Dixon, Cheryl Cole and Cher Lloyd as success.
When the album's opening track, Heaven, was released as a single last year, it hinted that Emeli might be capable of more than just supplying jingles for the X Factor conveyor belt. A drum'n'bass beat creates the background for a retro deep house groove that invokes memories of Candi Staton.
But when Emeli appeared on the same Graham Norton show as Madonna, the game was up.
She performed Next To Me, a slice of cod gospel that's unutterably tedious. "You won't find him drinking at the tables, rolling dice and staying out 'til three . . .". Delivered in staccato snippets to a horrendous ploddy rhythm that only English pop producers understand, Next To Me represents a new musical low in the theatre of the grotesque.
While performing, Emeli wobbled her arms up and down like Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds. That sci-fi puppet show was dubbed "supermarionation", but Emeli seemed merely wooden.
It's not the worst track on Emeli's 14 track debut. There are a few other contenders, including Clown, a piano ballad in search of a melody. And the low-light River ("I'm here to keep you floating. I'm your riv-er, riv-er . . .").
A top haircut and a tattoo of Frida Kahlo are fine. But cliche and re-heats aren't enough to merit the awards the British music industry is set to garland Emeli with. As Public Enemy said, "Don't believe the hype." HHIII