Adele smashed into the charts at number one with ‘19’ in January 2008, leaving what many felt was merely a taster of the talent-driven success that the soulstress could achieve. The fine blend of powerhouse hits, in ‘Chasing Pavements’ and ‘Cold Shoulder’, with the heartfelt and hauntingly arranged ‘Hometown Glory’ and ‘Make You Feel My Love’, set a precedent that saw Grammy and Mercury Prize acclaim.

Her return this month with ‘21’ presented fans with intrigue as to where Adele would take her sound as an established act. The album, while a continuation of everything that illustrates the singer by way of plonking piano riffs and sharp lyrics, belies a progression towards a maturity, which only serves to intensify the emotion in every track.

A stark contrast is once again found with the lead single; Motown-inspired ‘Rolling In The Deep’ is just a hair’s-breadth away from the raw reflective emotion of ‘Someone Like You’. ‘21’ is laced with hidden gems such as the delicate cover of The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’, which benefits so greatly from Adele’s smooth tones. The original song is truly done justice. The album also features a number of the tracks performed live; a musical form that she clearly views as a great complement to the style and originality of her vocalisations.

‘21’ is an emphatic return for Adele, proving that her talent as a singer/songwriter knows no bounds. Any thoughts that the success of ‘19’ was as far as her talent could sustain her are banished, and with ‘21’ outselling the entire Top 10 UK Album Chart on the week of its release, its popularity is justified. British talent at its best.

Patrick Ross

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