Portrait of The Artist as a Young Woman
4 Out Of 5 Stars
A natural born vocal talent, Adele debuted with a fully realized album that, despite being titled "19," is a much wiser and mature sounding album. From the first gently picked guitar that drizzles under the opening "Daydreamer" to the torchy closer "Hometwon Glory," Adele captivates you with a voice that carries a tradition of classic belters, including the likes of Dusty Springfield, to the modern Brit-Soul of Amy Winehouse.
But that is where comparisons end. There are few folks who can take songs and just outright own them, the way Adele handles Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love," or sell the songs she's written herself, like the tinkling of "First Love." Her voice is a soaring instrument unto itself, which means that the songs that work the best are the ones with the barebones arrangements. Yet given a full production number, she carries herself just fine, as she does on the international hit "Chasing Pavements." In fact, the only time things get wonky on "19" is when a more modern pop style is employed on "Tired." She's got enough charisma and chops to be able to dispense with the too busy sound of it.
Given that Adele matured into a serious force of nature when "21" appeared two years later, "19" was just the sampler. Still, as a debut album, "19" captures and folds you up in its warmth and sheer skill as a singer and songwriter. Classic pop doesn't come much finer than this.