About two or three months ago, people started posting a music video on their facebook walls*. Then I started seeing and hearing someone with a sultry voice being advertised, so I went to YouTube and watched a bunch of clips that hooked me from the get go.
May I present to you 21 by Adele.
Adele hails from North London, and at the age of twenty was the first recipient of the Brit Awards Critics' Choice, and she won two Grammy awards in 2009 for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. 21 is her second album, released in January, 2011.
Before purchasing this album, I read up on it a little bit and it was described as as a blues, folk and roots album. I don't know much about roots music, but it doesn't really strike me as such. Blues and folk, yes. Roots? No. Some have written that the album was underwhelming compared to Adele's debut album 19. But as someone who hasn't heard of her until now, I am impressed and enthralled with 21, and I have been since buying the album.
From the opening track, Rolling in the Deep, Adele sets the tone for a smoky, angsty musical journey. But angsty in a good way. Basically, this album is an ode to love - unrequited love, unfinished love, bittersweet, painful, sad love. And Adele nails it.
For me, this album had a distinctly 1960s feel to it, both rhythmically and vocally. Adele strikes me as being somewhere between Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick and Lesley Gore, and this is especially noticeable during the tracks Rumor Has It, Take It All and I'll Be Waiting which each have a very (sort-of swinging) 60s feel.
Adele's husky voice can belt out a chorus like nobody's business, but she can tone it down for the ballads as well. Turning Tables and Don't You Remember are somewhat slower than most of the other tracks, but Adele's voice takes a couple of average melodies and creates songs that evoke images of arguments, break ups and the loneliness that follows.
There are two tracks on the album that I really love. The first is Set Fire to the Rain, which feels so soulful and liberating, and is slotted nicely in the middle between the ballads on the album. My favourite track, though - the unbelievably weighty Someone Like You. From the first subtle piano notes through to the emotional crescendo of the chorus, anyone who's ever been in love is instantly taken back through the lifespan of their relationship while listening to this final track. There's something so raw and honest in this track that I've been getting to the end of the CD and hitting the rewind button about three times. I just can't get enough of it.
21 is simply a wonderful album, and Adele is one of the most compelling female artists in a long time and there will surely be amazing things to come from her in the future.
Don't believe me? Watch this:
Someone Like You - live version
*after directing my sister to this clip, she described Adele as being similar to Amy Winehouse, but without all the drugs. It's on oversimplification, but it amused me.