Album Review: Adele, 21

January 26th, 2011 // 2 Comments

While her album has hit shelves in the UK, Adele‘s sophomore album, 21,  isn’t released in the US until February 22. But I’ve heard it and I’m going to tell you this: you need to own it. Hell, it’s on chart to debut at the #1 slot on the album charts, even outselling all other entries in the top 10 COMBINED!

Known for her big, soulful voice that ranges from tender to terrifying, Adele has avoided the slump that most artists hit whilst making their second album. You need to listen no further than the album’s first cut and single, “Rolling in the Deep,” to realize that she’s certainly back and with a bit more fire than before.

The singer recently did a live webcast earlier this week, performing her new songs alongside cuts from her debut album 19. You can watch that here. The performance was amazing, but what’s even more endearing about Adele is the fact that she’s only 22, full of life, sass and laughter that sometimes you’d miss if you only listened to the music.

Check out my album review after the jump…

As I said before, the album kicks off with the powerful drumbeat and viciousness of “Rolling In The Deep,” and continues on with another favorite of mine, “Rumour Has It,” a track co-written and produced by Ryan Tedder, famous for his work with Beyonce on “Halo” and Kelly Clarkson‘s “Already Gone.”

Then we get into the second Tedder track, which again – thankfully – sounds nothing like a typical Tedder track. “Turning Tables” becomes the first somber tune of the album and certainly not the last. I wouldn’t say that Adele has deviated far from her musical style that she basically made her own on 19, but has certainly enhanced it and grown into the sound, giving a richer experience for the listener instead of ‘young girl records big ballads’ kind of deal.

“Don’t You Remember” comes up next and is one of my favorites. It’s another epic love song about the end of a relationship and looking back and trying to remember all the reasons you were actually in love with the person. The thing is about Adele’s music is that it’s certainly all relatable – and these aren’t pathetic love songs. They aren’t ethereal or vague. They are the grit and grime and raw feeling of being utterly devastated after a breakup. So this album is perfect for playing in the dark while in the tub with a glass of wine.

The next cut, “Set Fire To The Rain,” is said to be the album’s second single and it’s kind of a unique track, but equally good. “He Won’t Go” is so-so and not one of my favorites. Not like “Take It All” which follows it. That song blows my mind. I think it’s the choral backing vocals that do it. And for anyone who may say this girl doesn’t feel these songs, I dare you to listen to this and think she’s not been there.

“I’ll Be Waiting” and “One and Only” I think still need to grow on me. And not because they aren’t good, but as you have already read I am enamored with several other cuts already. The nice thing about this is that I’m sure over time I’ll just keep switching out favorites and falling in love with new songs all the time.

Then there comes the cover of The Cure’s “Lovesong.” When it first started, I said aloud on the treadmill in the gym, “Are you fucking kidding me?” It felt so cliche and dumb and pointless and I was angry. Then as I settled down and listened, the bossa nova interpretation and her subtle vocal performance totally sold me. She actually takes the song and makes it more of a love song than the origina.

The album closes with what will surely be the epic from this entire era – “Someone Like You.” And all I can say is just watch her sing it:

By Justin Thompson
  1. John

    Adele is awesome!

    I’m an Adele fan here in New York City and I cannot get enough of her. I cannot wait for ’21′ to be released. She is so talented and I hope she can continue to gain recognition across the globe. She is doing a private concert here in NYC on 2/11 and I’m desperately trying to win tickets via iheartradio (http://www.iheartradio.com/contests/). I would LOVEEE a chance to see Adele live.

    Can’t wait for ’21′!

  2. Sara

    Adele’s 19 was strong. 21 is simply timeless. In the past two years, Adele has refined and reinvented her unique sound that always puts her aching yet powerful vocals and lyrics at the forefront. These are songs that could have been released in the 60s as easily as 30 years from now. Adele has injected her trademark piano ballads with the best from several different musical genres including Americana roots and country, r&b, blues and gospel. The music is exciting and simply is. It lives, breathes. I played a couple songs for my mom, who at forty years older than I, generally criticizes my music taste, and the first thing she said was “Wow, this girl really knows how to write a story–those songs are beautiful.”

    Sara @

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