August 14, 2011
Adele: Youthful Talent
Listening to Adele sing, it is easy to forget that she is only 23 years old. Of course, listening to Adele sing, it's difficult to forget that she is only 23 years old. This contradiction became more and more evident as her performance progressed at the Greek Theater in Berkeley two weeks ago. Adele is a rarity in the mightily fragmented music marketplace: a break-out star. She actually has been able to sell records! Loads and loads of records. Adele was won many awards and has been recognized both critically and commercially since her debut in 2008 when she was just 19 years old- which leads us back to the dichotomy of the Adele concert experience.
Listening to Adele's CDs, it is easy to hear the brilliance of her voice. She sings expressively with poise and confidence and crystal clear notes like an experienced professional well beyond her years. And listening to Adele sing live is even more amazing. She is just crazy, crazy good. Her voice soars and almost has a life-force of its own. Definitely no auto-tune. I think the experience must have been somewhat like earlier generations had when hearing Ella Fitzgerald or Barbara Streisand sing for the very first time. Undeniable talent. Adele will almost certainly become a legendary singer of her time and generation. And she is only 23 years old, that's what's easy to forget
And impossible to forget. Of course, the reason that it's impossible to forget her youth is the subject matter of her songs. So far, Adele has only recorded two albums of soul and R&B inspired jazz-pop, a la Norah Jones. Both her albums 19 and 21 are song after song about unrequited love, lost lost, longing and infatuation etc. It is a little like the diary of a teenage girl being sung aloud. If only he would look this way, oh, he looked at me, we could of had it all! No wonder she has such a devoted following among teenagers. However, when sung back to back, it becomes a bit tiresome. Except for that voice!
In fact, after listening to Adele live and then listening to some of her recordings later, I felt that the recordings only capture a small fraction of the quality of her voice. Despite the somewhat tedious nature of the songs, it was easy to get lost in her voice which made the concert great fun. That, and the total adoring devotion of her fans who sang along to every song with abandon. I would definitely recommend checking out Adele if you can just to hear her sing live, but, for me, it's not likely I will go again; at least, not until she grows up a little and her writing graduates from the adolescent puppy love phase. Then, she'll truly become a superstar for the ages.