Monday, February 11, 2008

Adele: "19" Going On Stardom

Take the video evidence of drug abuse off of and YouTube and you’re left with looking at Amy Winehouse through a musical lens rather than as another troubled wreck of a modern pop star. Now take the soulful sound she brought back to the mainstream market and intensify that to incorporate not only aspects of jazz and pop, but also soul, R&B, and folk. What you’re left with is the new 19 year old British sensation Adele.

With a haunting and beautiful voice that far exceeds her age, she has recently become all the rage across the pond. After her self released debut single “Hometown Glory” (about her place of origin, Tottenham) caused her to become a hit MySpace artist, independent record label XL Recordings signed her as quickly as they could. As a result, her premiere album was just released worldwide and has begun to already spark much attention in places such as Ireland and Australia, as well as a British and American tour that is nearly almost entirely sold out already.

Truly capturing the airwaves is Adele’s melancholy self evaluation anthem “Chasing Pavements.” It is currently at the top of the U.K. Top 40 singles chart for the fourth week in a row. “Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements even if it leads nowhere? Or would it be a waste even if I knew my place, should I leave it there, should I give up?” she sings over a beautiful orchestration full of everything from percussion to strings to piano. Undoubtedly the most “mainstream pop” track on the record, it is clearly the song that is deservingly putting Adele on the map.

Other tracks such as the lead off “Daydreamer” and “First Love” do not have the same big band feel as “Chasing Pavements.” In fact, in comparison these songs are very stripped down and have a very raw acoustic feel to them. Other tracks such as the bittersweet breakup song “Cold Shoulder” still remain within the smoky café genre of the rest of the record, yet at the same time manage to have the feel of wanting to hit the dance floor.

Fitting in perfectly to the diversity of the album is the refreshingly original cover of the Bob Dylan classic “Make You Feel My Love.” No offense to Mr. Dylan, but Adele makes the song completely her own. She gives the listener the illusion that they are inside of a dark, isolated European bar watching her pour her entire heart and soul out on a tiny stage.

Whether or not the United States will embrace the brilliance and uniqueness of Adele the same way so many other places already have, nobody can say for sure. However, anyone with an ear for good music will surely be spinning her record in no time. Rapper Kanye West even recently posted “Chasing Pavements” on his blog site, describing it as “dope.” In December, Adele was awarded with the first ever Brit Awards Critic’s Choice prize and won BBC Music’s Sound of 2008 poll for new artists about to emerge in the new year. With a resume like that, it is only a matter of time before Adele explodes into a global phenomenon.

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