Back in January, I read a review of Adele’s second album, 21, that told me this was ‘a record I should own. Not download – own.’ The big voice and emotive lyrics that caught my attention in the debut album, 19, along with the spell-binding live gig that I was lucky enough to see in 2008 had already cemented Adele as one of my all-time favourite artists.
She is an artist close to my heart, not only for her similar adoration of Nancy from Oliver Twist, but also for her modest beauty and effortless talent. Melt my Heart to Stone is my favourite track on the debut album, with its slow, sensitive melody and lyrics that any eighteen-year-old girl with a crush can relate to. Her cover of Bob Dylan’s Make you Feel my Love was a close second, with an epic love ballad quality and stunningly poetic lyrics. Alongside these poignant and perfect offerings are the seemingly random Cold Shoulder, produced by Mark Ronson, and Tired, both backed by heavy drumbeats and something of an intergalactic quality; but brilliant nonetheless. At the time, I thought of Adele’s first offering as wonderful, but the true perfection has surfaced in her second album, which lacks the disjointed quality of 19 and demonstrates Adele’s stunning vocal qualities and sets her as a young woman who has found her place and grown up a lot since she was a young girl still searching in 19.
I admit that after her first album, Adele – or any of the reviews – didn’t need to persuade me to buy her second and I was sold when I heard her first release, Rolling in the Deep. Although this isn’t my favourite track off the album, I think it was a congratulatory lead single, with heavy drum beats and strong chords that literally say ‘I’m back!’
Widely understood as a ‘break up album’, this record contains a mature view to growing up and, as the title highlights, reinforces the difference between the artist aged 19 and now, a few years on. The sound of the record is more succinct and the slow and mid-tempo ballads flow effortlessly. This is not to say that the album holds no surprises; Rumour Has It, with its beats and backing vocals, definitely stands out and her cover of The Clash’s Lovesong is catchy and smooth, proving Adele’s ability to be versatile not random. My favourite song on the album is another of her slow and stripped down ones, Don’t You Remember; truly showcasing her emotion and outstanding voice, this song is simple yet extraordinary. Its credentials as a ballad are clear, but Adele also proves herself as more than capable in One and Only and Someone Like You; other obvious ballads that are different in their concept, and thus produce a very different sound.
At a time when record labels search for the next Gaga – an artist at the opposite spectrum of Adele – her modesty and humanity prove Adele as genuine talent, who lets her voice speak for itself. She smashed Madonna’s record for the longest spell at the top of the album charts (for a female artist), with neatly coiffed red hair and a cockney charm, no cone-shaped bras or leotards. Although after three and a half months at the top you expected nothing less of Adele, initially her success was unexpected in nature. Surely she is too humble to take over the world? Surely her plain performances won’t catch on? It is this endearing quality and ability to comfort in such a time of societal turbulence that has, perhaps, strengthened her success. And it is this endearing beauty and flawless talent that will maintain Adele as one of the most spectacular artist’s of our generation.