on February 22, 2011
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.
There are a few tracks towards the middle that are remarkable only because Adele sings them-- and while they aren't quite filler, they aren't as memorable as standout tracks like "Rolling in the Deep," "Set Fire to the Rain," "Someone Like You," and "Turning Tables." Adele set the bar so high with these songs that anything else short of magic, is sort of a letdown. However, as a whole--this album so involves you that you can feel these stories as your own.
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."
21 is haunting, pulsing, soaring and very intimate. It's music that will be remembered.
I didn't really think much of Adele's first album, "19". I like her voice but I didn't hear anything spectacular on that album.
"21" on the other hand...well, this is an album. And I mean that in the best possible way: it's not just a collection of songs thrown together, it's a journey, a story...told by a master storyteller.
There really isn't a weak song on the album. "Rolling In The Deep" and "Turning Tables" and "Don't You Remember" and "I'll Be Waiting" are all slightly more outstanding than the rest but the whole thing is very, very strong.
In my opinion, two songs stand apart: "Set Fire To The Rain" and "Someone Like You". Hard to say which I like more. The energy of "Set Fire To The Rain" is amazing...as is the emotion of "Someone Like You". If you have no interest in the whole album, at least get these two songs. No, I mean right now, go get them. I'll wait.
Okay, got them? Good. Go listen to them. And when you're done, come back and get the whole album. And when you've listened to that, come back and write a review, because we need to let the world know about this. In a musical landscape where empty noise usually wins the day (Lady Gaga? Justin Bieber?), Adele's "21" stands as a throwback to the days when artists actually cared about the product they put out, rather than simply trying to "cash in" on whatever the popular fad of the day happens to be.
on March 3, 2011
From start to finish this album is a testament to what good music should sound like.
Crisp, poignant, vulnerable, melodic and soulful. You can tell Adele crafted this album carefully because such attention to detail is paid. Personally I haven't seen songwriting of this caliber in popular music in a long long time. She is a throwback to a time when artists wrote poetry to music and people could relate in their own lives making this album, in my opinion, an instant classic.
From the thumping beats indicating a sense of urgency in "Rolling in The Deep" to the whispful and pulsating landscape of "Set Fire to The Rain" to the BRIDGE.. THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDGE in "One and Only".. the kind of chord change/structure that gave me goose bumps the first time I heard it.. to the loungy rendition of The Cure's "Lovesong" and the heartbreaking and deeply personal "Someone Like you" Adele takes you on a journey with her. This is the album you put on and live your life to. The kind of album you put on to garner inspiration and ultimately, heal.
This is the kind of album that can mend a broken heart. And I would like to thank Adele for breaking through where many other artists have tried and failed. Personally I didn't care for "19" all that much but "21" has made me a fan forever.
on April 17, 2011
I am closing in on 61 years old. Classic rock is my primary musical preference. I am very critical of younger artists. That being said, I was amazed myself at how much I have enjoyed Adele 21. I first heard Rolling in the Deep on a video station and was intrigued by the haunting background vocalists. I bought the CD for the only song I had heard and was pleased with almost every cut.
on March 1, 2011
It's so refreshing to hear a talented artist (finally) instead of the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Rather than a distorted voice, and practically naked (and weird) music videos, Adele refreshes the music industry with a breathtaking voice, the likes of which haven't been heard in a long, long, long time.
The genre is quite varied. Some songs are soul influenced, others maybe more pop, or even rock. The main thing is, though, they are all fantastic! I've never bought any music I've enjoyed as much as this. I purchased this on the Zune Marketplace 3 days after it was released, having never heard of her. I already have over 600 plays of it, and it's been something like 4/5 days since.
True talent is such a gift in todays music, when everything isn't filled with profanity and distortion. To find a low-key gift like this truly is a blessing.
on April 5, 2011
Let me start by saying I'm a 42 y.o female. While at my office about 3 weeks ago, a song came on the radio that stopped me in my tracks. I got out of my chair, went to check the radio station and immediately did an internet search to find out what this heavenly voice was. It was Adele singing "Rolling in the Deep". That night I went home and ordered this cd.
I have to say that for such a young woman, she absolutely moves me. She wrote every song on this record at the age of 21 and that by itself is quite impressive. And her voice - all I can say is WOW. I particulary enjoy "Set Fire to the Rain" and "He Won't Go". By the time you get to the end of the CD and listen to "Someone like You", you'd better be prepared with a box of tissue. Check YouTube for her live performance of the song at the Brit Awards and don't say I didn't warn you.
Needless to say, after listening to this record several times my hubby and I are instant fans. Some artists of today have to dress up in crazy costumes & makeup and pop out of an egg to be relevant & attract attention. Thank God Adele is the real thing, just pure and natural talent. I'm so happy I discovered her.
on February 20, 2012
I like this CD a lot more than I thought I would. I bought it for my wife, and very quickly grew to like much of it.
But... Seriously? You take a fine talent, good heart wrenching tunes, and mix it and master it like amateurs.
Brick-wall mastering is never tollerable, but one can almost forgive it on Green Day, Rancid, Spinnerett CD's, but Adele? Come on!! This is sad and pathetic. The opening track is clipped and harsh almost to the point of un-listenabiltiy. These songs and this woman deserves better. Putting out a CD with shoddy production values doesn't help anyone.
But, fortunately this album has succeded in spite of it's ridiculous lack of dynamics and hyper compressed and 'Loudness Wars' mastering.
Adele does not have a voice like Ella. That's a given, it's raspy and raw, but it's emotional and emotive. It works. I like it. I like the manner in which she performs her songs. The arrangements are mostly good, though a couple verge on the derivitive side of pop... or R&B.
I hope the Vynil LP is better... I'm planning to get it. At least they can't 'brick wall' it... though it too can be mastered poorly.
EDIT: I received the Vinyl LP, and ripped it at 24bit/96khz. The sonics and dynamics are far superior to the CD. Some songs are better than others. Set Fire to the Rain is similar because of the pre-mastering, which killed all the dynamics and flattened it to one volume. Running in the Deep is a revelation as it was not mastered to 'brick' form and has very good dynamic bandwidth. The difference is truly night and day on some songs like that one.
That said, what the LP has allowed me to do is see how poorly several of these songs are recorded and mixed and pre-mastered. Some are produced very well, and others are amateurish and pathetic. But only the LP will allow you to truly hear Adele, and only on about half the songs. This is quite a disservice to her, the songs, and the musicians who played on this album. Hey Adele, find the better producer and use that person for the entire album. That way you won't have such a hodge-podge of variations from song to song, and your talent won't be overshadowed by pathetic production values.
If you're new to Adele you may be wondering which cd to buy.
Recently, traveling overseas in the UK and Ireland, every house I visited seemed to have an Adele cd, usually belonging to a teenage girl or young lady. When I inquired further, nobody had anything but good to say about her. Even parents like her.
Upon my return I bought 21 never having listened to an Adele song. By the time I got home from the record store I had listened to most of the album, and immediately ordered her other album 19.
On youtube you may discover a Saturday night live skit about her song Someone Like you where cast members broke into tears when they heard this song. So later when I watched her on video, I had quite a strong emotional reaction to it, which is unusual.
If one talks about Adele either a flattering comparative or a superlative might be in order.
Not since the Beatles has an artist had two top five singles and albums in the UK charts simultaneously. Not since Madonna has a female artist held the number one position in the charts for 12 weeks consecutively before Adele with 21. In the Uk it's the bestselling album of the century so far beating Amy Winehouse's Back to Black. Six million recoreds sold in the USA in 2011, 231 million views of Rolling in the Deep on youtube. Her previous album 19 sold more than 5 million copies. She has sold more than 4.1 million copies of 21 in Britain alone. Now she has 6 grammy nominations winning 6, including Song of the Year for Rolling in the Deep, and Best Album for 21.
Called 21 because that's how old she was when she wrote it. Several songs including Someone Like You and Turn The Tables are relationship driven pieces, inspired by an ex boyfriend, who broke her heart and inspired her art. The major hits are Someone Like You, and Rolling in the deep, although I find all the songs to be high quality. I have been listening to this album in the car, and only this album for about two weeks, and never pressed the skip button once.
In interviews, refreshing and down to earth. Asked on Chelsea Lately about her ex boyfriend, she said: 'I believe he's living in a shabby apartment in London. I am staying in a very nice hotel around the corner.'
Rarely have I experienced a singer who grabs your nervous system and drags you into her emotional world. At once she manages to sound both modern and retro. This album is very well produced, and in addition to her voice, we have great instrumentation with catchy piano fills and intriguing backing vocals from female singers, even a brass section on some tracks. If she reminds me of anyone it's Dusty Springfield, Son of a Preacher Man, but she is distinctly Adele..
My only concern for Adele is her vocal issues, surgery with bleeding vocal cords, canceling her American tour. Having undertaken vocal training for several years, I know of several great singers who have lost their voices through flawed technique or overdoing it, the obvious example being Julie Andrews, so she needs to follow a proven successful method adopted by many successful singers, such as the speech level singing method which will protect and nurture her voice. It would be a tragedy if someone as talented as Adele was lost ot the world because of what would be preventable issues.
If you are wondering whether 19 or 21 is better, get 21 first. Her voice is better. The song quality is better overall, the production values are superior. On 21 all the songs are good, and some of the songs are great. Not to say that 19 is not good, just that 21 is better. I love the energy of Rumor Has It, and also Turn The Tables, and Someone Like You is an iconic relatable anthem to lost love. I also love Rolling in the deep.
One thing that intrigues me about her songwriting is her figures of speech, whether it is the metaphor of turning the tables or can you imagine what it's like to chase pavements, and can you really hit someone with your cold shoulder?
I think you will enjoy it, and I hope this was helpful.
on March 13, 2011
Being a guy, it's hard to relate to every longing serenade here, but that's beside the point. The fact is, Adele's tremendous talent can't be denied.
In an era dominated by ostentatious frauds like Justin Beiber and Lady Gagagagagaga, this young woman's voice harkens back to the days of Fontella Bass and the like. She is not only a breath of fresh air but a punch to the gut. There's an indescribable power to her sound.
There are many who profess themselves to be "singers," but Adele is one of the few who can actually effing SING.
Adele just gets better and better with age. Now, I am a HUGE fan of her debut album `19', and it's a rarity for an artist with such a defining debut to actually come back and surpass all expectations with their sophomore album. Even Damien Rice, who is above and beyond superb, couldn't top `O' with `9'. Well, `21' is, quite possibly, the best album I own...and I own `19', so guess what that means?
Yup, Adele tops her best with this collection of beautifully focused and executed GEMS.
If you aren't familiar with Adele, then you really need to acquaint yourself right away. From her smoky British accent to the way her voice separates when she reaches the heights of her vocals, piercing the heart as well as the eardrums (in a good way), it's just a total joy to listen to her. She is one of the best artists working today, delivering a great homage to the late great jazz and blues singers of yesteryear while adding her own modern spin, enough to elevate her material and make her relevant and accessible.
Just listen to the blistering opener, `Rolling In the Deep', for further proof that this girl has it all.
`21' features a lot of softer moments for Adele. `Someone Like You' closes the album with one of my favorite songs from the artist. With a piano laden musical arrangement, Adele laments over the loss of a lover who has moved on with sincerity and beautifully registered remorse. `Don't You Remember' adds elements of folk rock, giving her a bit of a country vibe (which suits her beautifully). The way her voice rockets skyward on the chorus is impeccable. `Take It All' reminds me of `19' a lot. It is beautifully sung, but I the midst of `21's impeccable lineup, the track feels like filler to me (but that's just me). Still, soft, sincere and beautiful to the ears. `Turning Tables' is stunning, totally highlighting Adele's silky voice with a simple yet stirring musical arrangement. You can feel her frustrations within the relationship she is lamenting, her voice delivers so much emotion.
I just LOVE `Set Fire to the Rain'. It is such a brilliantly crafted track, delivering an almost pop sound throughout the verse structure, emphasizing Adele's accessible vocals (and giving her relevance in this pop obsessed culture) but then she hits the chorus that is so far superior to any and all pop tracks released by these `Pop Princesses' today (the control she manifests on every word is BEYOND stunning).
There are still the bouncy jazz throwback songs here, like `Rumour Has It', that just color this album with such playfulness. I love the apparent Motown influences on `Rumour Has It', a song that is just so much fun. `He Won't Go' is certainly catchy, and the R&B vibe just settles so nicely on Adele. I love `I'll Be Waiting', which reminds me a lot of something Anthony Hamilton (love him) and Joss Stone (love her) would conjure up if they ever collaborated. The soulfulness, almost gospel quality, is just undeniable.
And that brings me to the best and worst.
The worst, for me, is the cover of `Lovesong', and this isn't to say that it is bad because it isn't. My only complaint is that I've heard it covered much better by other acts. In fact, both 311 and Snake River Conspiracy have covered this song with vastly different yet equally brilliant results. Adele sings it beautifully, but it just seems too simple to really stand out as impressive. The best, for me, is `One and Only'. Seriously, the song gives me chills. I instantly think of the late greats when I hear this song, the aged (vintage) quality of the track just drips all over my eardrums, and that chorus is so pristine, so heart-swelling; I can't help but fall head over heals for it. The growl in her voice just adds so much emotional umph to the song, and the message is relayed with ease yet and earnestness that swells in her heart and mine.
So, I think you know what I think you should do right about now...BUT THIS ALBUM!
For those of you interested; my ranking:
1) One and Only
2) Rolling In the Deep
3) Someone Like You
4) Set Fire to the Rain
5) Turning Tables
6) Rumour Has It
7) Don't You Remember
8) I'll Be Waiting
9) He Won't Go
10) Take It All