Thursday, February 16, 2012

Best of 2011 Reviews: 21 by Adele

I decided to let y'all know what I'd been listening to during 2011, so why not start with newly minted album of the year?
Adele's sophomore knock-out 21 is a curious record. It certainly isn't curious in themes, but just how fresh it is.
In the hands of Katy Perry, Rhianna, ect. this album just would've been solid in terms of lyrics. The lyrics are great, don't get me wrong. But we've heard this story millions of times over. Love is not unusual in the music business at all.
What makes 21  extraordinarily amazing is the class of the instrumentation and amazing abilities of Adele's voice. That is what really drives the album.
Whereas 19 was very jazz influenced, 21 turns to the blues and Motown of the sixties and seventies to give it a distinct sound in the dance/electronic driven pop music biz. If you were to hear an Adele song on the radio (and I'm sure you have) you could immediately distinguish it from any of the artists I mentioned earlier, or a rap group, or something like that. It doesn't sound like anything that's been so popular in a long time, and that is a very very good thing.
While a lot of people are probably rolling their eyes every time Rolling in the Deep comes on the radio (pun intended), the whole album doesn't feel like that. It gets better with every listen and you realize something
different with every spin.
The standout track without a doubt is Someone Like You, although it's effect is getting weaker with all of it's radio airplay. There's something magic in the song. It's just Adele and a piano. And that's where she works best in my opinion. The lyrics are raw yet polished and classy, the sparse-ness of it all making it perfect.
An entirely under-rated track on the album has to be the Carole King flavored One And Only. Backed by a choir, strings, and guitar, the love song almost sounds like a gospel song. There's soul enough for Adele and two of her radio airplay peers here.
Many of today's music critics and fans have been wondering "Who is going to be the Zeppelin of  this decade?" Who are future generations going to remember? Surely not Nicki Minaj and Rhianna? I think we're going to remember Adele.


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