Adele: 21


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Adele - 21

Cynthia Kang discusses tracks from Adele's sophomore album, 21.

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It seems as if there are just two ways to attract attention in the music industry: outlandish experimentation and pure talent. Adele (aka Adele Adkins) emulates the latter, having made a name for herself with the heartfelt vocals of her debut, 19. She returns with 21, a deeply personal and unabashed album that brims with raw emotion that evokes empathy from even the hardest of hearts.

Adele's charm lies in her down-to-earth persona. Displaying her emotions for all to see, her open honesty adds dimension to her songs, building an instant and steadfast connection with the listener. In 19, she explores a promising romantic relationship, which crumples in the much darker 21. It's always unsettling to have an idealistic notion shattered before your very eyes and Adele leads us on her emotional journey, from defeated exasperation ("Take It All") to eventual acceptance ("Someone Like You").

With this newfound emotional maturity also comes a cultivation of technique. Adele continues to deliver the soulful tunes that are her claim to fame but explores new styles as well. Rhythm, in particular, plays an important role in 21. The hollow beats in "Rolling in the Deep" add a natural swing that blends in with the discoed chorus, but the same beats reflect the contempt expressed in the jazzy "Rumour Has It."

Although 21 shines in its polished technique and dramatic showcase of talent, it fails to convey anything groundbreaking. Adele's tales of love, though indeed woeful, run through situations that artists have been rhapsodizing about since the dawn of time. But Adele's rich voice is the album's redeeming quality and with its intimate topics and smooth flow, 21 is the ideal remedy for the heartbroken.

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