Once again, I must credit my daughter Kayla for pushing me to purchase Adele’s “21”. I’m not a big “jump-on-the-bandwagon” kind of guy, however, from the moment I put the disc in my player, I was hooked. I absolutely love this girl. Everything about her, expresses artist. There is no lying in her singing. She has such a talent for characterization in song, and a pure bluesy strength, the kind that could rips your heart out. Adele divided the new material between aggressive pieces, splashed by smart percussive flourishes and stripped-down ballads, rippling with soul.
“I’ll Be Waiting,” highlights Adele’s heartbroken resiliency. Produced by Paul Epworth and co-written with Adele, has a neo-soul sashay, swishing with confidence and brio, and it inspires the singer to push her vocal expressions into sweet howls reminiscent of Dusty Springfield, another Brit deeply influenced by American country and soul. “I’ll be somebody different,” Adele sings, not as concession but as exuberant promise, “I’ll be better to you.”
It figures then that the other track that gives Adele ample ground for theatrics, albeit of a more moody ilk, is another contribution from Epworth. “Rolling in the Deep,” the album’s first single, provides Adele with the perfect stormy vessel; her voice tossing and turning, shipwrecked and mad but never losing control.
There are other worthy tracks on “21,” like the Rick Rubin-produced “He Won’t Go,” with its elegant piano and ticking beat, and the softly sentimental “Turning Tables,” but they don’t scrape at an exciting greatness the way the other two do. Occasionally, Adele finds herself in lesser territory, like “Don’t You Remember,” which sounds overwrought in both construction and performance.
“Someone Like You” offers a 10-hankie wretch-fest, boasting lyrics that speak of surviving a rejection that clearly cut her to the core. Like everything here, it sounds like a classic but also a dare. “21″ draws an unequivocal line in the sand that announces to every other diva around: Beat this.
Thanks Kayla, even though it seems like most have already heard this album, I’m glad I finally jumped on…