Tuesday, April 5, 2011


21 Ways To Leave Your Lover

She said it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do
To make you smile again” 

— Paul Simon

The other day I had CMT Pure Gold on in the background. It’s a TV channel that just plays music. It’s good — you should check it out sometime. Something came on that immediately made my ears pay attention: a lady singer, whose voice sounded so familiar…yet I couldn’t place her. Which country singer had that husky, intoxicating sound? No idea. When I was compelled to get up and look to see who it was, all became clear: it was Adele, that insanely talented young British singer, whose first record, 19 (her age at the time) brought her to the world’s attention where she rightly belongs. She won 2009’s Best New Artist Grammy.

Here she is singing “Hometown Glory,” a huge hit off that album. She wrote this song when she was 16 years old. You can measure a singer by what they are capable of doing live, on cue, on national television. I remember seeing this and just sitting there with my jaw hanging open.

Why she was being played on a country music channel, I can’t explain except to give them credit for playing whatever is REALLY GOOD. Perhaps this sheds some light on it, however; Adele credit her bus driver with a certain influence:

“He listened to all this amazing country music and we'd rock out late at night, chain smoking and listening to Rascal Flatts…It was really exciting for me because I never grew up around [that music].”

Here is the other reason: look who they paired her with at the Grammies. This clip features two of the best female vocals ANYWHERE. (Gotta love those songwriting ladies who can simply stand and sing their guts out with cool calm confidence).

The song “Someone Like You” has already been a major number one hit in Europe. I’m not sure if she is mainstream enough to really break through in America (backing from CMT notwithstanding), but she has enough critical acclaim behind her to succeed anyway.

Adele specializes in the kind of smoky, old-school R&B torch song blues you used to hear but don’t much nowadays since the invention of autotune and the like, which has provided an outlet for people with a high tolerance for the pitch 11 year-olds use to signal one another across gymnasia to over-tweak young “singers” to the point that the human voice is no longer recognizable (see Britney, Miley; stick a Y at the end and you have it). This is tres amusing since Adele credits The Spice Girls as a major influence. Rick Rubin produced a number of these songs, and from the looks of the interviews she gives, he enjoyed the hell out of it.

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, on the other hand, can not only sing the phone book (now, thankfully a completely redundant exercise; who uses phone books anymore?) but any damn thing she wants to. Her singing seems miraculous when you hear her speaking voice (which for those Inky Jukebox readers who have never really heard one) which is straight-up London, an un-pretentious and un-self-conscious voice which is liberally peppered with as many fucks as the idiom will allow (a lot).

Adele has a distinctive break to her voice in her upper register where all the air goes out of the note, leaving it a ghost of itself. This can be heard perfectly in the opening notes of “Take It All.”

The flighty beauty of her soft notes is equally balanced by the grit that lies beneath her low ones, as if she’s dug down beneath the asphalt to gravel.

This new record, 21 (her age now), showcases her enormous skill not only as a vocalist and songwriter (she co-wrote half the songs on it), but also as a designer; she had a hand in producing one of the best conceived CD booklets The Inky Jukebox has seen in a long time. Apart from the technical credits at the end, all it has are intriguingly candid black and white studio shots. This highlights that an artist is at work. It’s a design theme that carries over to her brand new website. It’s well worth a visit. This is a breakup / recovery album, and the strong emotions sit on its sleeve for all to see.

As on her debut, every song on this record is a winner, and the whole sounds cohesive enough to melt dreamily from one track to another with no rough edges, yet retain each song’s individuality.

I know you’d want to go see her sing live once you’ve heard this record. Sadly, you don’t stand a chance: her entire touring schedule for 2011 is already sold out.

Sure, you can buy this album on iTunes, and there it comes with the obligatory bonus track. But this is something you need to BUY IMMEDIATELY on an actual compact disc, because you want every single ounce of that crisp, genius-miked recording to be uncompromised by digital compression. Or, like Letterman demonstrates below, get it on good old-fashioned vinyl. Listen to it on your best headphones, too. Look out, y’all. Another Grammy’s a-callin’.

Here she is visiting Letterman again earlier this year.

One more thing The Inky Jukebox loves about this gal: she knows how to rock outrageous false lashes like nobody’s business.

The Inky Jukebox dedicates this review to Pablo.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome, y'all