“21” is British vocalist Adele’s second album, and like the first (“19”), the title indicates her age at the time of the recording. The listener has to look again at the artist’s age after hearing the voice on opening track “Rolling in The Deep.” It’s tough to imagine that coming from a 21-year-old’s mouth.
Adele, the 2009 Best New Artist Grammy winner, blasts away with a powerful, bluesy voice. She sounds like a combination of Amy Winehouse (the 2008 winner) and anyone with a brain.
“Rolling in The Deep,” the album’s first single, is also among the most instrumentally dense, and that’s with only drums, piano and occasional handclaps. Adele’s voice carries every track just fine.
Adele’s vocals on “Don’t You Remember” and “Someone Like You” are reminiscent of female blues icons from yesteryear, such as Bessie Smith. “Someone Like You” is the album’s most powerful track, coupling a gentle, sad piano with Adele’s bittersweet voice.
With Adele’s style drawing so many comparisons to blues and jazz vocalists, it’s surprising that she doesn’t pursue the style on “21.” She could take a page from Winehouse’s book and incorporate a jazz band, or sit down with a beat-up Les Paul and sing some delta blues. Either way, the potential is enormous.
It’s interesting that the one “standard” she chooses to cover on “21” is “Lovesong” by The Cure. The difference in the styles is enough to make it interesting. Adele is miles away from Cure frontman Robert Smith vocally, and the backing instruments are notably different as well.
After two albums, Adele has exhibited oodles of talent. The good news for fans is that, unlike with other big-voiced British exports, this one might last more than two albums.