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Adele - 21


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#1 Josh Hurst

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 11:01 AM

Adele's debut album was called 19, and the new one is called 21; both albums, of course, were simply named for the artist's age at the time of the recording sessions, and while that's a fairly obvious and literal declaration of her growth from one record to the next, it's fairly fitting, I think. This is a better album than her debut, which was nothing to sneeze at. She's an immensely talented singer and I think the songwriting here is solid, at times even really great. The production-- much of it handled by Rick Rubin-- is very elegant. The album's a little uneven, perhaps a little too burdened with ballads, but overall I think it's really good, pretty hot by throwback pop/soul standards.

It's streaming this week on NPR, and the summary that accompanies the stream is surprisingly condescending, I think; they give her some grief for not being an inventive-enough lyricist, for not "saying anything new" with her lovelorn songwriting, which I think is maybe a tad harsh.

But give it a listen; I'd love to hear how others respond to this one.

#2 Andy Whitman

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 12:34 PM

Adele's debut album was called 19, and the new one is called 21; both albums, of course, were simply named for the artist's age at the time of the recording sessions, and while that's a fairly obvious and literal declaration of her growth from one record to the next, it's fairly fitting, I think. This is a better album than her debut, which was nothing to sneeze at. She's an immensely talented singer and I think the songwriting here is solid, at times even really great. The production-- much of it handled by Rick Rubin-- is very elegant. The album's a little uneven, perhaps a little too burdened with ballads, but overall I think it's really good, pretty hot by throwback pop/soul standards.

It's streaming this week on NPR, and the summary that accompanies the stream is surprisingly condescending, I think; they give her some grief for not being an inventive-enough lyricist, for not "saying anything new" with her lovelorn songwriting, which I think is maybe a tad harsh.

But give it a listen; I'd love to hear how others respond to this one.

I think it's solid, but I tend to agree with the disparaging comments about the songwriting. Adele is a wonderful singer; frankly, the best of the relatively new UK pop bunch that includes Duffy, Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, etc. That powerhouse voice can atone for a multitude of other sins. And it's not that I think there are a multitude of sins on 21. But I do think the writing is fairly nondescript. This is an album that is designed to resonate with heartbroken girls all over the world. And it does. But it resonates in part because the heartbreak is so generic. Maybe she'll get better, but in the meantime I'll surely take solace in that superb voice.

#3 Josh Hurst

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 10:46 AM

Pitchfork reviews the song "Someone Like You."

And I review the album.

Shockingly, we come to the same general conclusion, which is that, while the songs here don't exactly reinvent the wheel, they are well-crafted. The hooks are strong and the lyrics have momentum, at times even emotional depth. There is not a great sense of artistry to the songwriting, but there is a strong sense of craft, and this is one of those cases where-- for me, anyway, and apparently for the Pitchfork writer as well-- craft can be moving all on its own.

#4 Tyler

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 04:21 PM

NPR Tiny Desk Concert.

#5 Thom Wade

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 08:35 AM

I love that opening track...it really works...

#6 Crow

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 02:51 PM

Adele performing "Rolling in the Deep" on the David Letterman show last night. She really was in fine form.

I find the album quite enjoyable. The first few songs are terrific. Even though the rest of the album can't quite measure up to the beginning, her voice is strong enough to make it worthwhile.

Edited by Crow, 22 February 2011 - 03:00 PM.


#7 Josh Hurst

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 05:38 AM

John Legend's a capella rendition of "Rolling in the Deep."

Really cool.

#8 Overstreet

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:56 AM

She'll be back. At the Grammys.

#9 Josh Hurst

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:57 AM

Now the seventh best-selling album of all time in the UK.

Edited by Josh Hurst, 20 March 2012 - 04:02 PM.


#10 Anna J

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 12:31 PM

Now the seventh best-selling album of all time in the UK.


Never underestimate the power of Lonely Girl Music. (and I say this as an Adele fan myself!)

#11 bloop

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 03:54 PM

No, there are 6 albums yet ahead of it.

#12 Josh Hurst

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:02 PM

No, there are 6 albums yet ahead of it.


Ha! Well, the guy whose Facebook profile I stole this from was wrong, and I didn't bother to read the actual article! I'll correct my post...

#13 J. Henry Waugh

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:23 PM

Until Someone Like You came along, I can't remember the last time I noticed and liked a song for which I'd read zero reviews and had noticed no word-of-mouth or blog recommendations. Whenever it may have happened, it easily predates 1998.

I've never even heard it the radio proper, only getting bits and pieces at delis, Chinese restaurants and while shopping for children's clothing.