Review: Adele – 21: Pop Music both Organic and Soulful

Adele’s album is the kind that makes me green with envy. Yes, I enjoy it. So much that I pray I can produce something with this much depth, soul, personality and passion before my career is over.

The songwriting sparkles throughout. Adele proves a strong enough writer, that through all the songwriting collaborations on the album, her unique voice and perspective shines through. European radio has already embraced this, but while the album has been selling like crazy in America, US radio has yet to get the clue. I hope they do, because besides the outstanding “Rolling in the Deep”, there are at least four other songs worthy of being massive hits. “Someone Like You” (Already a smash in the UK), “I’ll Be Waiting”, “”Rumour Has it” and “Fire to the Rain” all deserve to be stuck in people’s minds for decades to come.

The production is all admirably consistent as well… impressive considering the hodgepodge of mighty industry names… Rick Rubin, Ryan Tedder and more. Ryan Tedder in particular surprises with a sound that (upon looking at the credits) does indeed sound like him, but also sounds completely like Adele, and something new.

But my favorite discovery has to be Paul Epworth. Not only did he produce my two faves from this album (Rolling and Waiting) but it turns out he produced (and co-wrote) much of Florence and the machine’s incredible album, including my favorite song… and a couple of the stand-out tracks on Cee-Lo Green’s “Ladykillers” album. I’ll certainly be looking out for more of his work.

As rich and deep this album is, listening closely to the arrangement shows how simplicity in layers is often the best key to fullness and depth. Most of the instrumentation is simple and easy, but textured to make the listener gasp.

I wasn’t a fan of her first album… it was a bit too much on the slow side for me, and I felt it was missing the “hookiness” I prefer. Adele has shown that it is possible to pursue a more univeral commercial sound while still retaining 100% integrity as an artist. And THAT makes me excited. (And green with envy).

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