Adele - 21

Adele - 21

  • Article by: Matt Dodson
  • Posted: 02/22/2011

It’s hard to accurately classify Grammy Award-winning British singer Adele; some have called her a soul singer and some a pop star, but then Adele throws in a heavy dose of jazz and blues to the mix.

Add to that the fact that she is getting big-time radio play on independent alternative stations like Nashville’s Lightning 100, and the picture gets even fuzzier.

But regardless of what aisle on which you would find her music in a record store, the bottom line is that it’s worth the hunt. After hearing her single “Rolling in the Deep” a few times on Lightning 100, with its unorthodox production that fits right into the station’s lineup, I was more than willing to shell out $10 for her second album, simply titled 21, when it hit iTunes Tuesday.

And let me tell you, I wasn’t at all disappointed.

The record breaks with speed and attitude, as “Rolling in the Deep” kicks things off. Next comes my personal favorite from the album, “Rumor Has It,” which has the same eclectic and inimitable production style as the first song, a perfect showcase for Adele’s powerhouse vocals and you-can’t-contain-me attitude.

After the first two songs, she moves into a strong set of ballads, rocking with emotion on “Turning Tables,” unleashing her soul power on “Don’t You Remember” and “He Won’t Go,” and flat-out dominating on my second-favorite song, “Set Fire to the Rain.”

One of the only downfalls of the album is a cover of The Cure’s “Love Song.” It’s hard to tell if it’s a weakness of the song itself or if it just didn’t fit Adele’s style. I was a little distracted by it, and it was hard to regain focus to truly take in the next song, a tune with some of the best lyrical arrangements I’ve heard in a while. 

Adele’s eleventh and final song, “Someone Like You,” tells of regret over a broken relationship. As she belted out the lines, “Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead,” and “I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited, but I couldn’t stay away / I couldn’t hide it,” I quickly forgot about the lingering taste of “Love Song” and was once again pulled in by the melody.

Overall, 21 is stellar, despite the few forgettable moments that show up between the album’s unbelievably perfect first half and emotional closer. The dull moments are brief, and the other songs are well worth the wait.

I know Adele was already recognized in 2009 with a Best New Artist Grammy, so I’m not saying anything revolutionary here, but still, her name is one that any music fan should get to know … well. 

If she can manage to replicate the vast improvement that came between her already wonderful debut record 19, and her new release, 21, then she has a shot at becoming the gold standard in a world of ever-increasing female pop vocal talent.

The next time you’re listening to Lightning 100, hold out for “Rolling in the Deep,” or take a chance and get a much-needed dose of soul with 21. My favorite songs, if you only want a few: “Rumor Has It,” “Set Fire to the Rain” and “Someone Like You.”

  • Adele - 21
  • Adele - 21
  • Adele - 21

21: A Track By Track Interview

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