I searched through my old posts and couldn’t believe I hadn’t written about Adele. I was expecting to rest on an earlier prognostication regarding her success with 21, her fantastic sophomore release. But alas, I didn’t write anything here. Perhaps it was on Facebook.
21 was the best-selling album in 2011. Whatever that means. Is that physical CD sales? Or perhaps it’s combined with old-fashioned record store numbers and those of iTunes.
Adele is sure to take home some hardware next month at the Grammy’s, though it’s likely she will not be performing at the awards show, since she’s recovering from throat surgery. Was it improper vocalizing that led to the needed surgery? If so, I hope she fixes it but maintains her unique style.
A few weeks ago Cindy was sharing with me some YouTube videos featuring covers of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” a gorgeous ballad. There were some better renditions, at least in the sense that they were sung very nicely, but to me, Adele’s songs are more than just great neo-soul tunes. It’s like Tina Turner. No one else can sing “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” or “Private Dancer” (though I’m sure Rod Stewart has tried).
“Rolling in the Deep” was her first hit from the record last year and also the first song. When I heard it, I knew immediately this was no slump CD — like Norah Jones’ second release after a fantastic debut. Adele follows with “Rumour Has It,” which recalls the backing vocals of the Motown ’60s.
“Turning Tables” and “Don’t You Remember” remind us that Adele finds her niche in sad songs. But she impresses with “Set Fire to the Rain,” which might be my favorite from her live disc.
Hoping to catch her on tour
Cindy surprised me at Christmas with Live at The Royal Albert Hall. We watched it while taking down Christmas decorations. Well, I’d started helping but was immediately mesmerized by the live set, featuring drums, bass, two guitars, keys, a few backing vocalists, and a sweet string section, though at times the mix seems off (I like more drums) and it’s too bad that none of her instrumentalists are featured in extended solos.
Live, Adele betrays that she’s human, with a flubbed note here and there. She even restarts a song because she didn’t like her first phrase. But Adele is easy to forgive, because she’s so likable onstage, despite her potty mouth (which just might endear her to her British crowd). I had to keep skipping when we were watching the DVD. (The CD contains very little, if any, profanity-laden commentary from the songstress.)
Adele covers “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and while it’s pretty good, no one (for me) sings it like Bonnie Raitt. And it’s almost formulaic in the live set: heart-wrenching ballad with just piano; very few of the ballads feature the band. (I hope her keys player gets paid more than the other band members. First, because he’s a keys player. Second, because he puts in more time.)
The best part of the show is the double-encore when her audience fervently sings back to her the chorus of “Someone Like You.” She is moved deeply but regains composure to close with “Rolling in the Deep.”
If you don’t already have 21, you’re one of the few. If you like it, you’ll want Live.