Adele Adkins is an English songstress who draws similarities from Amy Winehouse and Duffy. Regardless of the aforesaid appraisals of Adele’s abilities, these do not define her artistry, as she brings her own spirit and vocal inimitability and pours it on 19, titled in reference to the age when the album was recorded. Adele proves she is here to stay after several hits, album certifications and two Grammy nominations won for Best Female Pop vocal Performance and Best New Artist.

Adele burnishes in the whole disc, every song tells its own story in insightful lyrics and an above reproach vocal delivery. Adele’s vocal range is extraordinary, pitchy at times (i.e. ‘Melt My Heart to Stone’) but intended to be and the results are deeply for emotional shock. The delivery of her vocals is smooth, firm, and gigantic but not becoming overdone or vexing. One can clearly hear the influences from Etta James and Billie Holiday, but the album does not become a fleece, it instead delineates Adele as being herself.

‘Cold Shoulder’ is a superb versatile experimentation of neo soul, rhythm and blues with soft rock as well as ‘Tired’, where Adele rides a mild vocal rollercoaster in each verse of the chorus.  ‘Crazy for You’, is Adele riding the slow guitar strums at her best. ‘First Love’ is an amazing lullaby which keeps steady but Adele takes it to another level with the emotion she stamps all over the track, as she hauntingly wails. ‘Chasing Pavements’ is wonderful from all aspects, Adele displays her voice at high notes and reaches a subtle climax before she punches in with the chorus and resigns at the end if trying and investing energy in a futile relationship is worth it after all.

The Bob Dylan cover of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ does not even sound like a cover, as Adele makes the track hers, shimmering along a sturdy piano playing throughout the song, as strings slide in before she closes with an standing ovation-deserving harmony. ‘Hometown Glory’ is almost a hymn to London; Adele’s melancholic vocals make the listener actually feel the nostalgia.

19 is an aching heart gracing one’s ear. It is beautifully written and composed; the dispersion of instruments consolidating blues, soul and jazz are beyond breathtaking. The scatter of Motown adds a lot to the album, solidifying Adele’s attempt to create a retro sound. 19 roughly throws back between the 1940’s and 60’s; it is brilliantly implemented and utterly impressive. Even though she insinuates the sounds of the past while still remaining contemporary, she is ahead of her time. The record is both musically and emotionally authentic. The record is pretty simple, but sometimes less is more.

★★★★★

C.Perez