Adele – 19

September 2, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Posted in Adele | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Adele – 19

1. Daydreamer
2. Best For Last
3. Chasing Pavements
4. Cold Shoulder
5. Crazy For You
6. Melt My Heart To Stone
7. First Love
8. Right As Rain
9. Make You Feel My Love
10. My Same
11. Tired
12. Hometown Glory

♦ ♦ ♦

19 is the debut album by British singer-songwriter Adele, released on January 28, 2008. The album debuted in the top 10 in eleven countries worldwide, receiving 2x Platinum in the United States for shipping/selling over 2,000,000 units.

Daydreamer is a beautiful acoustic opener for the album, with Adele singing to a simple guitar melody. On her second album, the music would be just as important as her vocals to strengthen them, but here her vocals are the center point, the music is more sensible rather than audible. When she starts using her higher register, she still knows how to maintain the soulful quality in her voice. Dreamy song, just like the title actually.

It’s kind of hard to follow the tempo and melody of Best For Last since the music is only bass during the first minute, but after that it all starts to make sense and both Adele’s vocals and the music are quite infectuous. Being a very playful and uplifting song, I quite like it as soon as the chorus comes along. Seems like Adele did save the best for last because this is the kind of track that gets better by the minute.

The album’s sound strikes a different path with Chasing Pavements. At first, Adele sings to another simple arrangement consisting of a piano and guitar, but in the chorus there is a big crescendo because of the addition of percussion and a lot of strings. Adele knows how to use her vocals and nail the song, belting out her lyrics in the chorus and singing softly and deep in the verses. While the feel of the music is pop, she definitely brings a little jazz to it with her voice.

Cold Shoulder is the first uptempo song on the album and among the ones I really like. Opening with a good drum beat and celesta, it draws immediate attention. Because of the lyrical content, there is a sense of melancholy to the music as well, which makes the tension more clear. The strings and guitar riffs even reinforce this a little more. Adele’s raspy vocals fit this vibe perfectly, making it one of the best songs on the album so far.

Crazy For You is a song that focuses on the vocals while displaying a minimal arrangement, just like Daydreamer. Consisting of just some low groovy guitar riffs, it’s jazzier than said song and shows off even more of Adele’s vocal abilities. She’s constantly transitioning between low chest voice and higher head voice, ornamenting her vocal melodies with a lot of soulful adlibs. It’s not a standout song overall, but her vocal performance it amazing.

Somehow I had the feeling I already knew the song when listening to Melt My Heart To Stone, which starts off as a ballad but evolves into something that transcends that feel a little. It has a somewhat similar sound to Chasing Pavements with the same kind of buildup towards a stronger chorus after a quiet verse, also using a grand strings arrangement. I’m just a little on the fence with Adele’s squeak when she sings ‘You say my name like there should be an us‘ but thats it, the rest of the song has an amazingly inviting sound.

First Love is another one of those simplistic songs on the album, using only a melody box in the instrumentation. I must say the sound is pretty unique on the album, being more cute than jazzy and that’s actually quite refreshing. Soft like a lullaby, this track does contain some pretty sad lyrics in contrast to that cute tune. The album needed a song like this at this point.

Going right back to the more groovy side of Adele’s music, there is the soulful Right As Rain, which sounds slightly gospel influenced with the background choir and the organ. After all the ballads and simple songs, finally we have another uptempo track here with a catchy piano tune and a smooth drum pattern, and Adele just nailed it with her gritty vocals.

Make You Feel My Love, ahhh. This is a cover of the Bob Dylan song but I refuse to listen to any other version since there probably isn’t getting any better than this. Being a song that could’ve easily been the stepping stone for her sophomore album, it’s the highlight of her debut. With just a piano melody and some dramatic strings, it’s the most appealing song on the entire album and Adele surpasses herself singing this track. I love her belting, especially when she cries out ‘I know you haven’t made your mind up yet / But I will never do you wrong / I’ve known it from the moment that we’ve met / No doubt in my mind where you belong‘. Perfection, period.

The ‘aye aye, aye aye‘ vocalizations opening My Same were very catchy and definitely introduced the vibe that the track had to offer. It’s like a 180 from the soft and melodious Make You Feel My Love, taking the album back into the soulful side of jazz music. I loved the guitar riffs in this song, but what really makes this song sound so jazzy is the cello in the background. This bouncy arrangement gives Adele enough space to show off her amazing timbre and raw vocals.

Tired has a unique sound when it comes to the arrangement, being one of the rare uptempo songs and using a quicky kind of instrument I don’t really know, but it’s much fun listening to Adele trying out this style. No jazz this time, just fun pop with some hints of electro through the sound of some synths. Piano and strings make it a little more organic, thus balancing it off to finally create one of the most unique songs in Adele’s discography.

Hometown Glory is the last and the longest track on the album, opening with an amazingly beautiful and long piano melody, taking on a very warm tone when it progresses. This is a very personal song to Adele, who’s singing about her hometown. The ambience of this song is very breezy and somehow happy, satisfying. Adele again made this song by performing with a soulful voice, making it a great closing track.

I must say the overall sound of 19 kind of disappointed me somehow, especially since I already knew what she was gonna be capable of later when she released ’21’. That album was amazing and no Adele album could probably ever beat that one, and neither could her debut. This album was a little weaker than her second album, featuring more simplistic ballads with just some uptempo songs that felt very out of place between the more peaceful tracks. However, when I judge by the individual tracks, this album deserves a little more credit from me personally because Adele showed more than any other artist what she was made of during her debut. It’s like she wanted to say ‘Here I am, like it or not, but I’m here to stay’. So with just a couple of hitches, this album was still pretty sweet after all.

Favorite tracks: Daydreamer | Chasing Pavements | Cold Shoulder | Melt My Heart To Stone | Right As Rain | My Same

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

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