Album Review Adele - 19

It’s a shame that the record doesn’t seem to allow Adele to act her age: these feel like songs written for someone at least ten years older, if not more.

Adele

is nineteen, as the powers that be are so keen to remind you, being that ‘19’ is the title of the much-hyped songstress’ debut album. It’s a shame, therefore, that the record doesn’t seem to allow Adele to act her age: these feel like songs written for someone at least ten years older, if not more.

Single ‘Chasing Pavements’ is, admittedly, a wonderful example of just how majestic and stage-like pop can be, but it’s as contrived as it’s possible to get without venturing anywhere near Simon Cowell. It’s designed for a radio audience; it soars just where you expect it to, and were it not for Adele’s uncanny ability to sound like she means it, would be little better than a Leona Lewis effort.

The points during ‘19’ where Adele does shine are undoubtedly those where she’s acting young; those which bear the ultimately predictable comparisons with fellow girl-about-town Kate Nash. Debut single ‘Hometown Glory’ expresses a view carefully balanced between utopia and gritty reality; she’s too young to be cynical here. ‘Best For Last’ is a playful track about, well, playing boys (or one boy in particular). ‘Daydreamer’ is full of the joys (and otherwise) of young lust. But that’s about it.

Once the orchestration hits - carefully conducted during ‘Chasing Pavements’ - ‘19’ is mostly a girl sounding made to perform songs which are beyond her years. The kind of tracks you’ll take from Amy Winehouse - not only is she a full 5 years older than Adele, but her well-publicised struggles mean you know she’s lived it - but here sound like a girl playing at being a jazz star.

Adele has a fantastic voice, it’s strong, emotive, and believable. It’s able to climb, soar and wilt without risking that American Idol-style gurgling. In this way, the hype isn’t misplaced. Yet, when this talent is used in such a calculated way, it’s almost a waste. Almost, because while the tracks aren’t bad, if Adele was left to be a teenager a little longer, they could have been so much better.

 

Records & Merch

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