Adele: 21


The 21-year-old U.K. chanteuse Adele’s fine sophomore project has weight. Still, listening to the panoramic 21, you might get the impression that you’re experiencing a developing artist whose best work is still in front of her. Produced by Rick Rubin and Paul Epworth, there are some serious “wall of sound” epics here, including the symphonic “Set Fire to the Rain” and “One and Only.” Gospel-ish disco and AM radio R&B resound on such cuts as “He Won’t Go” and the country-fried single “Rolling In the Deep.” Lyrically even with her 19 debut, the take on love is mostly melancholic. Adele’s stylized tear-stained voice reads sincere - at times coming across as a bluesy Carly Simon - though she rarely stretches beyond her occasionally listless mid-groove and piano-ballad comfort zone. Adele’s learning her lane. (4 out of 5 stars)