After listening to Adele’s latest album 21, my first instinct was to stand up and give the album a standing ovation. I don’t think I’ve ever had an album resonate so deeply with me after a first listen.
Adele had quite the hit song on her hands with “Chasing Pavements.” The song was a part of her acclaimed debut album, 19, which led Adele to winning two Grammys, including Best New Artist in 2009.
Adele began working on her new album, 21, while she was on tour in the United States promoting 19. Her tour-bus driver turned her on to “amazing country and blues and rockabilly and bluegrass and gospel” music while on the road. After being introduced to the music of Wanda Jackson, Adele said in a press release that it had a “massive effect, couldn’t help it, it rubbed off on me.”
21, which addresses love, heartbreak and everything in between was inspired from the singer-songwriter’s own love life. Adele said, “I had the most poignant relationship in between these two records. I met him and he was brilliant; it was a really great relationship and it went sour obviously, because I made a bitchy record about him.”
Adele worked with some amazing collaborators on the album, including One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, Paul Epworth, Dan Wilson, Fraser T. Smith, Greg Wells, and Francis “Eg” White. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and Paul Epworth.
It opens with lead single, “Rolling In The Deep.” Described by Adele as “a dark bluesy gospel disco tune,” the song talks about looking back on love and what could have been. I remember the first time I heard it, and I couldn’t believe it was Adele. I knew it was her voice, but the tempo and the melody were so different than anything I had heard her sing before. This song really shows some personality, which was a goal of hers.
“I think I come across moody and serious with my music,” she said, “but, in real life, I’m sarcastic and very cheeky. I really wanted at least one song on this album that was representative of me as a girl, as a person. I don’t think the playful me came across on the first album. It’s important to show growth and development.”
I really think she his this effort on the head with “Rumor Has It.” It has attitude and has a cheekiness to it, which makes it a fun listen. Other standout tracks include “Turning Tables,” “He Won’t Go,” and “Someone Like You.”
On “Turning Tables,” Adele collaborated with One Republic’s Ryan Tedder. I was really surprised at first to hear that Tedder had a hand in this song, because it doesn’t sound like a carbon copy of the other ones he has written, which I appreciate immensely. I just love how the verse builds and builds into the chorus; it really adds to the overall tone of the song.
I also like the jazzy, R&B feel to “He Won’t Go,” which touches on figuring out love, letting go of a relationship, and all those questions that come up when dealing with such a sensitive topic. As a listener, you feel like you’re having this conversation with Adele, weighing the pros and cons of staying and leaving in her relationship.
To be honest, the first time I heard “Someone Like You” it brought tears to my eyes. It’s so honest to the point that it breaks your heart. It plays out like an unsent letter, the kind you write to express your feelings, but never actually send. I am happy that Adele chose to publicly send her letter, because it’s beautiful.
What will make this album a success along with Adele’s absolutely flawless, powerhouse vocals will be the poetic nature of her lyrics. Each song is crafted in such a way that as a listener, you are drawn into her songs and are able to emotionally connect with the lyrics.
Adele’s conscious decision to not have 21 sound exactly like 19 works in her favor. It’s not that 19 isn’t a wonderful album, but with 21 we’re seeing her come into her own as an artist. The songs were infused with her musical influences, yet still unmistakably sound like Adele tracks.
There’s no mistaking that Adele’s 21 is something special.
For more information on Adele, check out her official website.
Definite Downloads: “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You”