Music Review – Adele, 19
Riding a wave of critical acclaim and rabid fan fervor, Brit soul singer Adele scored a record deal off of her MySpace demos and became a phenomenon in the U.K. at the tender age of twenty; itâ€™s not terribly difficult to see why. Her talent is unmistakable, with a vocal style that recalls Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, and an album full of bluesy tales of love and loss. But she also faces the daunting task of following in the wake of Amy Winehouse and Duffy, two similar singers bringing the same mix of sultry crooning and bluesy belting, who just happened to hit big right before her. Adele sounds like a less dangerous, less haphazard version of Winehouse with some of Bjorkâ€™s squeaky playfulness etched in.
Her debut album, 19, named after the age she was while recording it, is according to her, â€œa whole album about love, about being cheated on, and not getting what you want.â€ And thatâ€™s exactly what she delivers, song after song about the same themes. Her incredible voice, at times sultry and smooth, at times brassy and almost overpowering, rises above the fairly one-note material. â€œHometown Gloryâ€ finds her softly reminiscing over a weeping piano and gentle strings. â€œBest For Lastâ€ is a jazzy arrangement dueling with a dancing baseline. And â€œChasing Pavements,â€ the albumâ€™s standout, drapes her in string arrangements and heartbreaking soul. But in underwritten songs like the overproduced pop of â€œTiredâ€ and the Stray Cats rip-off â€œMy Sameâ€ her talent loses out to banality.
Still, she clearly has talent to spare. 19 serves as a reminder that with stronger material and the wisdom that comes with age, she could grow into a formidable artist.