Adele’s “21”, Just Another Powerhouse Album?

I know that there has been much written about this amazing album already. Many of them listing her powerhouse voice, her poignant lyrics or the throwback to Motown girl-groups, although these reasons are cliché, they are dead-on. Adele’s “21” is the best album of 2011 (as well as one of the best albums, period), for a not so easily defined reason. Every note she sings engulfs us in a multitude of emotions.

On “21”, Adele sings to us of love won and love lost, yet the entire album is so much more than the run of the mill sappy songs about a relationship we’ve all heard crooned before. Adele captures the gamut of emotions we go through when we have given ourselves to someone, and they have, in turn trampled on us through her lyrics. It is her voice that captures us. In “Set Fire to the Rain”, her voice conveys the wonder of being saved by love to the immobilizing moment when you realize that it is over, in just one beautiful and moving note. Every note she sings paralyzes you with the complexity of emotions within. “Take It All” her vocalization fills the listener with all of the shame felt when a lover leaves, all of the desperate longing your lover to come back, all of the confusion about why it had to end, and the undying love given to “the one”. If you’ve ever idealized a relationship once it is over, take a listen to “I’ll Be Waiting”. Begging a lover to stay just one moment longer to give you one more chance to change has never sounded so brave and fulfilling. All the while Adele’s voice also brings forth the undercurrent of knowledge that pledging your life to someone will ultimately leave you alone. The light of memories of love, the futileness of hope, the inevitability of longing, pledging undying love is best heard on “Someone Like You”, the album’s closing song. Never has a voice so gracefully and seamlessly sewn together love, hope, longing, pain. Adele doesn’t neglect the resentment and bitterness that come along with love, however. “Rolling in the Deep” brings us Adele’s hardened heart. Her voice splays her soul open to us. We know she’s giving someone the finger, warning him that she can tear him apart, blaming him and still letting us feel that for all that, there is still sorrow for what might have been.

Adele’s voice delves beyond heartache we’ve all heard sung before; it is her soul bleeding.

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