And to this week’s edition of Songs on Saturday!
You know, I hang out at Starbucks. A. Lot. Starbucks is pretty cool. More than their beverages, I lub their weekly Pick of the Week of free iTunes downloads. A new tune is featured every Tuesday.
I get to sample the music of a lot of great musicians I already lub like Elton John and Gregg Allman, and the music of musicians I never heard of before like Amos Lee (I’m a fan now) and Wye Oak (ummm.., not so much).
This week the Starbucks | iTunes Pick of the Week‘s featured artist is 2009 double Grammy award winner
The single, Rumor Has It, is the #2 track from her sophomore album, 21.
These talented young women, alumnus all of the BRIT School, a performing-arts public high school in London, include Kate Nash, Lily Allen and the most gifted and notorious of the group, Amy Winehouse.
No one of these women are over 30. They clearly have a real reverence fur the musical traditions begun and then inexplicably abandoned by the current crop of black R&B and pop “artists” stuck, like quicksand, in the mire of crossover appeal and its dollars.
That’s a sin and a shame, but happily there are singers– SINGERS, like Adele, Duffy and Amy Winehouse who interpret lyrics, respect singing, actually can sing and who do, with intelligence, a whole lotta soul and without the redundant vocal gymnastics and gimmickry.
They get that it’s about the music, not about them or any distracting and ridicules character or alter-ego, or disgusting, robotic gyrations and scant attire. It’s not about how big the lace front is. But I digress.
All of the album’s tracks, with the exception of a cool acoustic guitar rendition of The Cure’s “Lovesong,” were written by Adele with her musical collaborators: Paul Epworth (“Rolling In The Deep,” “He Won’t Go,” “I’ll Be Waiting”), Ryan Tedder (“Rumour Has It,” “Turning Tables,”), Dan Wilson (“Don’t You Remember,” “One and Only,” “Someone Like You”), Fraser T. Smith (“Set Fire To The Rain”), Francis White (“Take It All”), and Greg Wells (“One and Only”).
The main of 21 was cut in Malibu with producer Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Jay Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and in Kensal Rise in London with Paul Epworth (Plan B, Bloc Party, Florence and the Machine).
Among the strengths and allure of 21 is the chance to get closer to the real Adele:
“I think I come across moody and serious with my music,” she says, “but, in real life, I’m sarcastic and very cheeky. I really wanted at least one song on this album that was representative of me as a girl, as a person. I don’t think the playful me came across on the first album. It’s important to show growth and development.”
“I had the most poignant relationship in between these two records. I feel really blessed and lucky I was given that relationship and able to have it. Sometimes when I meet artists, they don’t seem to have any reality in their lives. It’s completely in a bubble that’s not allowed to be burst. I’m just screaming for my bubble to be burst. I met him and he was brilliant, it was a really great relationship and it went sour, obviously, because I made a bitchy record about him (laughs). He made me really passionate for myself, for him, for love, for life, for food, for wine, for film, for politics, architecture, traveling which I hate–I hate flying and stuff like that. He made me really really interested in just being alive, which I hadn’t felt yet. It was incredible. When I was promoting 19, I thought, ‘What the hell am I going to write about? Hotels? Air miles? I was very very lucky that life intervened.”
As much as 21 is about love’s rocky road, it’s also about finding peace in life’s turmoil’s. “That’s what the record is about,” says Adele, “and I’m just more forgiving because of it.”
Adele enjoyed working with the top-flight producer Rick Rubin, who helped her create 21:
“In the studio it was brilliant, the band Rick put together was amazing. It’s all about the song. We could’ve been in 1920 or we could’ve been in 2060. It was all about the music, all about the song. We weren’t referring to anything that was going on that was popular or successful or relevant at that particular moment in time. It didn’t even occur to us about the glitter that you pour on something afterward or how you’re going to market and promote it and the video or the styling or the remixes or duets or something, It was just about the music which is completely overwhelming to be given the opportunity to make a record like this so early on in my career.”
Adele began prepping for 21 during her American tours promoting 19. Her tour-bus driver turned her on to a deep well of Americana, music from
Nashville, “amazing country and blues and rockabilly and bluegrass and gospel.” Adele was introduced to the music of Wanda Jackson who had a “massive effect, couldn’t help it, it rubbed off on me” and the electrifying echoes of the “Angel with the Dirty Mouth” can be heard reverberating through Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and “Rumour Has It.”
Adele began to trace American country music past the obvious mainstream into more esoteric nooks. “Country is not a big deal in England,” she says. “It’s more of a niche thing.”
Adele, who used to “put on a song to cry to or laugh to or get ready to go out to,” began to listen to music with a new, more profound sense:
“I was literally swimming in music for a whole solid month,” she admits. “Locked myself in my flat and just listened to music for the first time. Etta James and stuff like that. I became obsessed with hip-hop, rappers and MCs and lyrical poets…manipulate words and make them rhyme or make a really mundane thing seem like the most incredibly exciting euphoric thing, you know what I mean?”
Between 19 and 21 lies a lifetime of experiences for Adele:
“So much happened in my career. It shattered all my expectations. No one was really expecting anything when I was signed, so that everything, whenever something happens, it surpasses what I was expecting.”
Born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins in London on May 5, 1988, Adele released her first single in October 2007. “Hometown Glory,” a song she’d written at age 16 in response to her mother’s suggestion she leave London to attend university, would go on to earn a Grammy nomination.
In December 2007, Adele became the first recipient of the Brit Awards’ newly inaugurated Critics Choice prize, presented to the year’s most significant artist who, at that time, had yet to release an album. She was also honored as the winner of BBC Music’s Sound of 2008 poll – a consortium of UK music critics, editors and broadcasters – as the most promising new musical artist likely to emerge in the upcoming year.
The early predictions of Adele’s success were superseded by the chart success and sales performance of 19 and its hit singles — “Chasing Pavements,” “Hometown Glory,” “Cold Shoulder,” and her version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” — and sold-out concert performances including a headline slot at the Hollywood Bowl in front of 19,000 fans.
The line between 19 and 21 is crucial juncture in most lifetimes and we are fortunate to have an artist of Adele’s acuity and grace on-hand to give voice to those universal transformations:
“To me, music is all about relating. I would never dare write a song about success or anything to do with my career, because it doesn’t happen to many people. What I love about music is when I’m totally convinced that someone has written a song about me even if it was written 80 years before I was born. I would love it if someone felt that about one of my songs and I love it when people go ‘I thought you were inside my heart or inside my head, you know exactly what I’m feeling.'”
Upon each and every one of you
Each and every day!
“And there came to be evening and there came to be morning…”
That’s life today.
- Adele: profile of the No1 singer (telegraph.co.uk)
- Adele’s sophomore disc mines shattered love (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Introducing Songs On Saturday (that1ebd.wordpress.com)
- A Crowd Of People Stood And Stared (that1ebd.wordpress.com)