XL Recordings / Columbia
It’s strange to think that it’s been three
years since British singer-songwriter Adele released her debut album 19.
That’s probably because her single ‘Chasing Pavements’ was on tight rotation on
every radio station, music channel and department store playlist that you had
the misfortune of coming across. Traditionally, the type of burnout that the
track received would not bode well for a follow-up album. Expectation builds
among fans and critics alike, and you can’t help but flinch as you nervously
press play, hoping for the best as you do so.
Breathe easy, though. The soulful and big-voiced
22-year-old Londoner has returned with a sophomore album that is light-years
ahead of her successful debut. Opening tracks ‘Rolling in The Deep’ and ‘Rumour
Has It’ provide a decent dose of foot-stomping, finger-wagging sass from an
artist whose spirit was in the past lost in over-thought and overwritten, characterless
Such pitfalls have weeded their way through
still, such as ‘Turning Tables,’ which is instantly forgettable, and ‘Take It
All,’ which sounds like a backing track to a generic Oxfam advert. These tracks
both showcase Adele’s voice well, but do her little justice as the
singer-songwriter she is becoming.
Her song-writing has gained more on a level
par with her voice, and even though her words still sound better in your ear
than they read on paper, songs like ‘Set Fire to The Rain’, ‘One And Only’, and
‘Someone Like You’ are likely to strike a nerve or two. Deeply personal these songs may be; it’s the
upbeat numbers such as ‘He Won’t Go’ and ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ that carry the
There’s such a thing as a song being bigger
than its artist. The rapid rise of Adele could have very easily developed into
a dull repeat of her first album, engineered by evil, life-sucking moneymen.
This would have been dutifully followed by a series of upsetting guest
appearances on a grimy British rap record, a droning club remix of something,
and maybe even a Mark Ronson b-side.
Thankfully for everyone, she has bloomed
like the flower she is, and gained a song-writing voice that’s very close to
being worthy of her singing voice. All she needs now is a jailed co-dependent
partner, a drug addiction and a messy beehive hair extension.