Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On Repeat: Adele - Turning Tables

Sometimes you are wrong about an artist, and sometimes you are WRONG about an artist. Maybe the song they have on the radio is terrible and you've unfairly maligned the rest of their discography. If I had only heard Lollipop by Lil Wayne for my entire life, I probably would have thought him a disgusting misogynist, and not the creative genius he truly is. Sometimes the band name is so pretentious or abhorrent that you can't even bring yourself to listen to a single song (see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, even though they rule). Finally, you hear universal acclaim for an artist and you disregard it because the general populace is a bunch of drooling earthworms and you are an F-18. Well in the case of Adele, I was wrong.

Every generation has a signature voice. A voice with an unparalleled range and inexhaustible strength. A force of nature that stops you in your tracks and makes American Idol contestants look like tone-deaf simpletons. The 80's had Whitney Houston. The 90's had Mariah Carey. The 2000's brought Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera (sometimes). Well after hearing Adele's pipes, I'm going to hand over the next decade to this 21-year-old from London.

On Turning Tables, a cyclical piano part allows Adele to slip in virtually unnoticed, leisurely offering her first verse, yet keeping perfect time. She sneaks up to the bridge, offering a brief glimpse of her strength, before toppling into the chorus like the apex of a rollercoaster. She hopscotches blithely from octave to octave, cooing in her upper registers one moment and humming at a depth that would make Barry White blush. While the subject matter is secondary with a voice like hers, it also holds up to repeated listens, sharing a familiar break-up tale, while tiptoeing around cliches. At only 21 years old, her voice has a unbelievable maturity and soul that you would be hard-pressed to find at any age. I hope she can avoid the pratfalls of Ms. Houston and Ms. Aguilera.

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