"21" by Adele

Adele
21

XL Recordings
2011

Review

I'm detecting a bit of a woman scorned vibe here =)

Here's yet another massive commercial success. And yet, this one more than deserves the record sales as well as the acclaim. I really liked Adele's previous release. Passion is often missing in music today. Too much formula and not enough SOUL. Well, Adele has never been shy when it comes to using her real life experiences as fuel for her music. That voice is incredible. It's a shame that she missed a lot of tour dates this year due to voice ailments.

My wife said to me that I wouldn't like this album because it has too many ballads. Let me set the record straight. I'm not anti-ballad. I'm not anti-downtempo. But listen, R&B was my first favorite genre. Before Hip-Hop. Before Rock. It's always been R&B and Soul. The shit that my Pops used to listen to while repairing old cars. It's just that I've heard so many songs from so many great R&B artists, that my threshold for new ballads isn't what it was when I was a kid. So if the ballad is going to get my attention, that shit needs to be REAL. Adele is some REAL shit. And what's realer than a woman pissed off about how her no-good man has done her wrong. And yeah, that's what's here. Plus! There's a whole lot of good Pop-sensibility to these songs - even the ballads - to differentiate them from the songs that have influenced them (see: "Set Fire To the Rain" as an example in the positive and "Take It All" as an example in the negative).

Speaking of which, there's a fucking CURE cover of LOVESONG on this joint that is bluesed up to shit and fucking brilliant (sorry mom, for all the cursing, but just listen to that shit!)! How's that for some differentiation? The last cover I heard of that song was by some nominal Alternative Rock band that was basically just exactly the same as the CURE's version of it (OK, it was 311 and as a band they aren't bad, but that cover - in the immortal words of my 12th grade band instructor - blew chunks).

Still, anchored by radio hits like "Rolling In The Deep" (which is my vote for song of 2011 btw. "Sexy and I Know It" by LMAFO is probably the popular vote, but c'mon. That's like the "Too Sexy" for 2011 and the only reason you remember THAT song is because I just brought it up again) and "Someone Like You" Adele has shown that occasionally what's popular can also be good. For me she occupies the same musical areas as Amy Winehouse (RIP) without the (shall we say) extra-curricular activity.

All in all, Adele has put out an album of amazing blues-inspired soulful R&B music that has somehow by some miracle managed to become transcendent and register on the popular culture radar. Normally the commercial success of an artist is delivered only through expensive collaborations with popular artists and/or major marketing campaigns. Adele did the old fashioned way, I suppose. By being talented and musical and by injecting a whole lot of passion into her music. A very big voice, indeed.

4.636 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Rolling in the Deep (03:49) 5
2. Rumour Has It (03:43) 5
3. Turning Tables (04:10) 5
4. Don't You Remember (04:03) 4
5. Set Fire to the Rain (04:01) 5
6. He Won't Go (04:38) 5
7. Take It All (03:48) 3
8. I'll Be Waiting (04:01) 4
9. One and Only (05:48) 5
10. Lovesong (05:16) 5
11. Someone Like You (04:47) 5
12. Need You Now (live at CMT Artists of the Year Awards) (03:56)
13. Someone Like You (live acoustic) (05:15)
14. Turning Tables (live acoustic) (04:21)
15. Don't You Remember (live acoustic) (04:18)