Heartbreak has always served as the grist for the finest songs in the pop canon, and Adele Laurie Blue Adkins channelled the quashed dreams and drama of a shattered teen romance on her debut album 19 with poignancy and class. Her soulful, timeless vocal made this London-born girl an award-winning international star, with 19 going on to shift upwards of two million records.
While Adele moves on to new musical territory – her American tour bus driver introduced her to Rascal Flatts, Wanda Jackson and Nashville drivetime fave Lady Antebellum – her subject matter remains entrenched in matters of the heart. She has another break-up to draw on, and, with the help of producers Paul Epworth and Rick Rubin, Adele is digging deeper. The results are simply stunning.
The album’s pinnacle is certainly closing track ‘Someone Like You’. Co-written by Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, the stark piano ballad sees Adele searching for her recent ex-boyfriend some 40 years on, finding him settled with a wife and kids, while she’s still alone, regretful and pining. Her lyrics are brave, raw and eloquent. Elsewhere ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ addresses the sting of waking up and realising someone isn’t who you thought they were.
But don’t worry, it’s not all sodden tissues. First single ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and ‘Rumour Has It’ (with One Republic’s Ryan Tedder) are fierce, soul-bolstering shimmy-shakers, with ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ adding a pinch of gospel and ‘Don’t You Remember’ showcasing her new country-tinged bent. Never once does Adele over-embellish with superfluous wibbles and warbles. Showboating’s just not her style, and her music is all the more powerful for it. It’s crazy to think that she’s only just 22. We’ll be awaiting further instalments throughout Adele’s twenties with bated breath.