Adele – 21
Adele hails from England and is on her second record. She’s already a two-time Grammy winner including a Best New Artist award as well as a slew of other awards and distinctions. Before now she was best known for her hit Chasing Pavements. This year, that will most likely change with an album that fuses modern day soul with rhythm and blues going back nearly half a decade.
21 opens with the album’s first single Rolling In The Deep. A stomping beat to back up Adele’s soulful vocals in this 70s-style rhythm and blues anthem about a love that could have been in the hook that will stomp on any other this year, “We could have had it all”.
In other tracks, Adele is influenced by instances of gospel, disco, country and pop but leans mostly on rhythm and blues to carry her songs. She shows that she can apply soul to this wide range of musical genres and in each case, it works beautifully. The piano ballad Turning Tables shows off her ability to do a pop ballad that could be a huge radio hit if radio were at all receptive to playing ballads anymore. She channels Alicia Keys‘ brand of R&B in He Won’t Go, a song that defends her choice to want to stick with her man in a broken relationship. Meanwhile, her gospel side comes out in Take It All backed by a choir in perfect fashion. Set Fire To The Rain is a catchy pop record that feels like something pulled from the late 80s era of Heart combined with Roxette.
My personal favourite track on the album after a single listen was the yearning Don’t You Remember. In keeping with my own personal CD collection, it was this track in which Adele’s voice reminded me of Serena Ryder as the song sounds like something out of a Serena record. But it was Don’t You Remember that absolutely blew me away instantly. The idea of being an afterthought or an erased memory for a defeated relationship. This is definitely an instant classic.
The impressive thing about listening to Adele sing is just how effortless she makes it sound. Completely natural as if singing is as instinctual as her breathing. Her vocals on this record could have just as easily been recorded while driving or doing housework. The soul in her voice is convincing and definitely playing the main role of winning audiences over.
Adele is going to be the name of the year. She has everything in her court at the moment. Strong vocals. Cool enough to appeal to music snobs and purists while still fitting in with fans of present day pop and classic R&B. #1 album and #1 single in the UK. And 21 only just came out. She has the makings to be this year’s success story. I’m thinking the Norah Jones of 2011. Maybe not a strong radio presence but come December, critics will be hailing her record among the best of the year while sales will consistently see it near the top. She’s the type of person that everyone will want to see success with a name that everyone will recognize. And with an album like this, it will be well deserved. I’ve been won over.
1. Rolling In The Deep
2. Rumour Has It
3. Turning Tables
4. Don’t You Remember
5. Set Fire To The Rain
6. He Won’t Go
7. Take It All
8. I’ll Be Waiting
9. One And Only
10. Love Song
11. Someone Like You