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Emeli Sandé

Kool Haus, Toronto, ON, November 23

Emeli Sandé
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This year has treated British singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé well. The 25-year-old became the voice of the London Olympics with her spirited single "Wonder," and she even overtook Adele as the best-selling British artist this year. And just like her fellow songstresses on the charts, Sandé has the vocal chops and songwriting skills to back up her meteoric success.

Her voice was undeniably infectious live and, at her best, it oozed soul and narratives that its broad audience could identify with. Powerhouse single "Next to Me" and even her renditions of Nina Simone's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" and Coldplay's "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" (she opened for the British group last year) framed the singer's ranges, from earnestly gospel/soul to joyously pop. With a backing back armed with an acoustic guitar and bongo drums most of the time, Sandé's more airy soul-pop groove could veer on pandering to generic Top 40 standards, but again, she outsold Adele. She's doing something right.

It's tough to tell whether or not Sandé can separate herself from the steep competition of similar soul-pop artists like Alicia Keys, but if anything, she's been a great complement to the rising league of strong female voices. Sandé's live show might not necessarily knock you off your feet, but that might not be its main goal. Much like the overall sound of her records, Sandé's music is meant to ease and uplift the soul as you sit back and relax. And surely, everyone left the show a bit happier and more relaxed, though maybe not ready to tackle an Olympic sport. At the very least, however, it motivated to do something positive.

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