Now in general, I am not good at doing music reviews. I will talk later on the blog about my process of making mixes; however, suffice it to say, I am not terribly good at describing music, let alone reviewing much. To prove this point, if I may quote my Yelp reviews, “For a gas station, good experience.” Truly Shakespeare or retarded. I have decided to try again, for science. Also, I have writers block in other projects and this is a good time waster.
I am in general wary of pop music, not that I don’t like the genre of pop, per se; however, I do feel that most pop music moves in such swift currents, that it is often hard to tell one artist from another and that original gem that forced the current to change is often lost. It is in this vein that I take all pop with. In general, the indie scene is where I hang out picking out the pop-ier bits and clinging to them for my mixes. So as I started to hear Adele, I was intrigued, but mostly ignored it. This is why this review came out four months after the first listen on NPR. The album’s flirtation with the pop charts seems to be as uncomfortable as Adele is with the limelight.
The album is heavily influenced by 1950s-1960s American Motown and early R & B. The general narrative of love lost in the album starts out strong and triumphant, but gradually gets weaker. Her voice is a beautifully flawed Alto; cracking with imperfections and nearly dripping with emotion, at times popping like a wind instrument pushed to its limits. The music in the background, for the most part is restrained, with the exception of the single Rumor Has It. Her voice, even in that boisterous song is overwhelming and leading. However, as the songs grown more emotional and turn towards morning, her voice becomes much rawer. Her beautiful vocals are almost transcendental. This tragic roller coast climaxes in the finally of Someone Like You which is the most beautiful song I have heard this year; so simple and tragic, reminiscent of a thousand breakups and broken dreams; the pleading of emotional devastation and the hollowness that follows. Her words are relatable and so heart rending that I too was drawn to tears.
In my hopes, I want this music to hit the charts and influence them. I know this is trite, but I liked Mumford and Sons before they were big, I heard their album on All Songs Considered and purchased it almost immediately. When the songs trickled through the hierarchy of Top 40 to general audience, I was ok with it; almost proud, that I was somehow ahead of the curve and that perhaps others would have the emotional attachment that I had. And then, I heard it in a Kohl’s when I was looking at yuppie polo shirts. I realized that my music crush had fallen for the quarterback of the football team or at least the wrong crowd. Even though it was through no fault of their own, they had drifted from me. On the other hand, Josh Ritter, another emotional album, has remained much more loyal and it feels like it is something I can still share with others.
Where does this leave Adele and 21? No one can claim her anymore, with her first album 19 winning a Grammy for Best New Artist, she is already all of ours. However, I believe there is hope for hear do to the incredibly personal album she has made. In some small way, perhaps she can share with each of us enough of our own past, that this album remains a personal experience.
Watch Someone Like You, tell me what you think.