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 timeless vocal made this London-born girl an award-winning international star, with 19 going on to shift more than two million records. There’s just no better way of sticking two fingers up and saying ‘I’m doing just fine’ than well-deserved success.
While Adele moves on to new musical territory – her American tour-bus driver introduced her to Rascal Flatts, Wanda Jackson and Nashville drivetime faves Lady Antebellum – her subject matter remains entrenched in matters of the heart. It turns out she has another break-up to draw on and, with the help of producers Paul Epworth and Rick Rubin, Adele is digging deeper and 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.
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’ 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 overembellish with superfluous wibbles and warbles. Showboating is 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.