Review: Adele, ’21’

Review: Adele, ’21’: Aidin Vaziri | When Adele was handed the best new artist prize at the Grammys two years ago, everyone watching thought it was a mistake. The big-voiced London native was actually a worthy winner of a worthy award and, well, that never happens. But between Gaga and Kesha, she is something of a rarity – a brawny 22-year-old with a smoldering voice and some very tangible insecurity running through her music. Like her breakthrough first album, “19,” the songs on the “Chasing Pavements” star’s latest deal with heartbreak inside and out. Only this time it feels bigger, deeper and more expensive, with high-end producers such as Rick Rubin and Paul Epworth giving the record its legs. “21” is rich in texture, diverse in sound. The opener, “Rolling in the Deep,” is a staggering kiss-off served with a Nashville backbeat; “Turning Tables” a graceful meditation sung by the fire; and “Set Fire to the Rain” a breathless epic that could easily become Adele’s calling card. You can tell that all parties involved expect big things from the album, and that sometimes gives it a little too much heft, particularly midway though, where it feels as if the singer is being suffocated by the weight of expectation. But redemption lies in a low-key cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong” going back to back with the jilted, beautifully broken ballad “Someone Like You.” Sometimes coming of age isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – at least she has those pipes to carry her through.

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