The winner of the annual Brit Awards Critics' Choice prize has always been a safe-as-houses option (previous ones include Adele and Jessie J), but there's no denying they're always spot-on with their selections. The same could be said in part for this year's winner Emeli Sandé, whose much-hyped debut might play it safe, but nonetheless gets it just right.
As we mentioned in our first listen piece last month, lead single 'Heaven' - a homage to proper '90s dance music - stands alone in its genre (and beats-per-minute range) here, but there's plenty elsewhere that equals its brilliance.
The militant drums and ecclesiastical string section interwoven with Sandé's gospel-like tones on preceding cut 'My Kind of Love' is the real tone-setter for the album. It's a sound that continues best on the sermonizing 'Where I Sleep', the sky-soaring 'River' and latest single 'Next To Me' - the latter also serving as a much-needed uptempo moment among the slightly too ballad-heavy collection.
Her vocal - while remaining flawless throughout - falls somewhere between the power of Leona Lewis on the piano-led numbers (see 'Hope'), and the sultriness of Beyoncé on R&B-tinged 'Mountains'. The former is also an example of the record's occasional heavy-handedness ("I'm hoping that change isn't hopeless/ I'm hoping to start it with me"), but nonetheless, it's impressive penmanship from a once-upon-a-time medical student.
In fact, given the passion, desire and overcoming-the-odds message felt in Our Version of Events, it's hard to imagine Sandé was destined to do anything else in life. Better yet, it sounds like she's only just got started.
Tracks to download: 'Heaven', 'My Kind of Love', 'Where I Sleep', 'Next To Me', 'River' If you like this, you'll like: Leona Lewis, Beyoncé, Mary J Blige