Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Star is Born (Judy Garland, 1954)

What is in the water over in the UK? In the last few years they've produced some powerful contributors to the R&B scene through female vocalists with smokey soulful sounds: Joss Stone, Amy Whinehouse, Leona Lewis, and Corinne Bailey-Rae are among those. I'm sure I've missed several, but, you get the picture. Well add the artist, Adele, to this list. I think she may be Sassy Jesus Girl's new favorite. I fashion myself a music enthusiast, not writer. Therefore, Sassy is posting a review of Adele's album, 19, written by Ron Heart. You must check this out! This girl is really talented.

Twenty-year-old Adele Adkins, is the exact opposite of the tabloid fodder who have inundated the mainstream in that she actually seems to have a good head on her shoulders. Sure, the London native is brash and likes a good drink, but her vices come with an air of confidence that give her a precocious, Artful Dodger-esque quality that makes the idea of her speaking against British indie royalty charming, not tragic.

She’s the kind of girl you could see yourself settling down with in your 30s, which for her at her age, is not exactly something you want to hear. And therein lies the concept of her astounding debut album, 19, a collection of songs that ache with the longing of the perfect would-be girlfriend who just can’t seem to find the right bloke her own age to recognize that she’s such a major catch. She’s a buxom beauty with “a little more to love”, as it would say on her own private MySpace page. But given that most guys, especially in England, seem to prefer anorexic Kate Moss clones who just smile and wave their way through life than real girls, one can see where Adele is coming from in her music, especially on tracks like the vibrant first single, “Chasing Pavements” and her heartbreaking, seemingly Randy Newman-inspired rendition of Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love”.

This is music, mind you, that clear blows the roof off any other blue-eyed R&B album that has come out of Great Britain since Macca got down with Stevie Wonder. Boasting a trio of producers that includes Mark Ronson, Eg White and Jim Abbiss, 19, indeed boasts several distinct sounds by which Adele is given to do her thing. These are utilized quite harmoniously to fit her powerhouse vocal delivery, a stirring combination of her diverse influences ranging from the Cure’s Robert Smith to Philly soul queen Jill Scott to legendary rhythm ‘n’ folk chanteuse Karen Dalton.

Adele Adkins is certainly the real deal, standing before what could potentially be a monster career with worldwide crossover, one that could prove that her staying power is far more plausible than those of her tabloid-driven contemporaries. So long as she doesn’t start hanging out with Amy Whinehouse or Pete Dougherty, or finds true love and then starts getting all sappy, that is.

Ron Heart,

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