Album Review: Adele – 21

British soul singer Adele's second album, 21, is conscious of its status as a make-or-break sophomore record. But while 2008's 19 was an album full of heart-wrenching confessions of love and regret, 21 doesn't wear its heart on its sleeve in quite the same way. The songs are still romantic and full of emotion, but the messages get drowned out in orchestral swells that detract from, rather than add, to the intensity of the lyrics and Adele's fantastic voice.  

Adele's signature swelling vocals and heartbreak-filled lyrics are present throughout, particularly on the singles "Rumour Has It" and "Rolling in the Deep."  These two are also the most upbeat and soulful tracks on the album, leaving no doubt that Adele is here to stay. More stripped-down tracks, including "One and Only" and "Take it All," are fairly forgettable, proving that a voice alone isn't enough to carry a mediocre song, no matter how powerful that voice is.

Overall, 21 is an acceptable second record that seems to be aiming for the same success of the first, if not more. Adele's voice is beautiful and her lyrics speak to the emotional extremes of romantic relationships, but the overproduced arrangements leaves the album devoid of the rawness that drew fans to Adele in the first place, and in the end creates an entirely harmless and, at times, boring sophomore attempt.


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