Review Summary: Love is all you need. Apparently.
A week is a long time in politics and two years in the music industry nowadays can be akin to something Buck Rogers would have experienced. Since the release and subsequent peals of acclaim from critics and consumers alike of her debut LP 19
her contemporaries have fallen away. Amy Winehouse disappeared in a haze of smoke, Lily Allen took the money and ran whilst Kate Nash and Duffy dropped off the radar after two poorly received second albums. Adele has been given a clear runway and the chance to stake her claim as the UK’s leading solo female artist. Can the girl whose songs became the background music to myriad dinner parties allow the lightning to strike twice?
Adele has stuck to the numerical theme in the naming of her albums and delivered 21
, an at times boisterous, intimate, soulful and rocking album. Its ability to switch between various styles is a testament to the talent already at her disposal and there is plenty to be excited about on this record. Showing an alarming sense of maturity far beyond her 22 years on this Earth, Adele has combined the best bits of Aretha Franklin’s old-school soul with Lauryn Hill’s sass and sense of cynical modern femininity. Not only that, but she has mixed them in a musical blender with the aid of an all-star cast of producers and boffins-for-hire that includes Rick Rubin, Ryan Tedder and Paul Epworth.
Adele’s most powerful weapon is her faultless voice. It can veer from soft and achingly tender to an over the top but tuneful bellow. Opener “Rolling In The Deep” is a fine demonstration of her vocal abilities. The voice that belies her tender age takes a standard progression and kicks the song up to a different level. “Don’t underestimate the things I will do” she tells us, and it’s unclear whether that is a threat or a promise. The following track “Rumour Has It” is by far the best song on offer here. Pounding drums, sweet vocal harmonies and a tale of love both won and lost with some alacrity. Elsewhere there are similar lyrical admonishments to a former lover and words of warning to any of her potential new suitors. “Turning Tables” is a delicate ballad that possesses an astonishing beauty, “He Won’t Go” should get even the most miserable of music fans snapping their fingers and “Someone Like You”, an ode to stalking with a perverse attitude that lies underneath the fragile composition, looks set to become the soundtrack to a million messy break-ups. There’s even time for a smooth bossa nova cover of The Cure’s “Lovesong”, somehow adding another layer of maudlin introspection onto the lyrics of Mr. Sunshine himself, Robert Smith.
Throughout this LP, upon analysis of Adele’s words and attitudes, you can’t help but feel she herself is a high-maintenance kind of girl. It’s no wonder she keeps on getting dumped. Her seemingly advanced maturity works against her at times. For all of her posturing and ruminations on life, love and other such considerations, you may well ask yourself whether she is merely playing a part and recycling old themes or if she has the experience she so eloquently sings about.
It must be tough to be young and in love; sleepless nights, insecurity and all of those hormones flying around the place. It’s not like it is in the movies, is it? The Supremes said you can’t hurry it, but Adele has proved that you can certainly dwell on it.