2011 has been absolutely huge for Adele, and it’s all been because of this album. 21 is Adele’s sophomore album, a follow up from her well received debut, 19. It was nominated for the Mercury Music Award and at the Grammys for ‘Album of the Year‘ and ‘Best Vocal Pop Album.’ It reached number one all over the world, and with a career a way off reaching her peak, this is absolutely phenomenal. Adele also hit the news for a slightly negative reason too, as she struggled with problems relating to her vocal chords, forcing her to cancel a vast amount of shows. She had to undergo surgery to save them as she couldn’t risk losing one of the most precious things in the British music industry at the moment, her vocal chords. I’m glad to report that she’s recovered from the surgery and we can all look forward to some incredible shows next year.
Over the year Adele has proven to be a cover queen, but she’s not performing the covers, it’s the vast amount of artists, both professional and amateur, taking a track or two and putting their own spin on them. It seemed that 1 in every 10 X Factor contestant sang their own version of their Adele favourite. This proves how utterly groundbreaking this album truly is.
21 is an infusion of soul and blues, wrapped with lyrics that rivals that of the heartbreaking Dolly Parton, which not only pulls on the heartstrings, but are so easy to relate to that you share every painful syllable with her. It’s no secret that Adele has had her heartbroken, but what we all love about her is the fact she’s come back fighting, putting herself into her music completely and using the tears, insecurities and pain to create an album full of love songs that will stand the test of time.
The blend of folk and Motown that appeared in 19 is also a very prominent theme in 21, but a more mature and captivating approach to such genres that capture the very essence of heartbreak. The relationship between Folk and Motown that Adele has weaved together is stunning as she’s managed to modernise them and create a truly unique concept. This magical Motown/Soul/Blues/Folk has a British twist to it, making Adele a national treasure that we can all be proud of, especially as 21 has broken into America and now captivating audiences globally with her breathtaking musical whispers. She has let the world into her private place, sharing every detail of her personal past and her ambitions for the future.
One of the Adele’s most personal tracks on the album is ‘Someone Like You’, where she describes in detail her utter journey of getting over someone she gave her complete love and devotion to. She speaks directly to him, telling him how she plasters on a brave face, wishing him well, but inside there’s a cascading emotional waterfall, a force that is nearly impossible to control. The amount of detail and simplicity behind the lyrics has actually moved me to tears. This is the perfect love song, as the simple piano accompaniment wraps around the stunning vocals, which emphasises the true spirit of the song.
A couple of other tracks on 21 that tells a story of heartbreak is ‘Hiding my Heart’, ‘I Found a Boy’ and ‘Don’t You Remember’, all with either a simple acoustic guitar or piano carrying forward the narrative of Adele’s torment. What makes 21 so magnificent is that it’s a concept album, which is something that is rarely seen anymore. Although not all songs are about a broken heart, it’s Adele’s journey where she’s taken a moment of time to think about the past, the present and what to do next. Like all of us, we get waves of strength, sometimes we feel better about a situation, strong, we can take on the whole world. But other days we feel so weak and defeated, wanting an unlimited amounts of cups of tea, a good album to shed a couple of tears to and to listen to someone who understands what we feel like. That is the concept here, the mixture of emotions that can sometimes take you by surprise, but it is definitely a mixture.
However, Adele isn’t a weak character by no means, she’s a force to be reckoned with, and it’s great that some tracks of the album shows this determination to take on anyone and everyone. ‘Rolling in the Deep’, ‘Turning Tables’ and ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ evidently shows her incredible spirit and how adaptable she is to a wide range of different musical movements and ideas. Adele is no one trick pony, oh no. This definitely contributes to her global success, as it lets us see a more powerful, tough and ambitious Adele. These infectious tracks have all entered the charts at some point over the year, but not only in the UK but all across Europe, America and beyond.
Adele’s vocals are mind blowing, which are showcased beautifully on every single track of this album. However, Adele singing live is even better, and an added layer of this lady’s incredible talent. The fact that Adele sounds almost identical when she sings live makes us fall in love with this lovely crooner even more. She has captured our hearts, and as a nation, we’ve all fallen in the love with her, her broken heart, tears and struggles, but above all else, her determination to bring us honest, simple music straight from the soul.