Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Truth Hurts (Especially when Adele is Singing it)

Reserve 25 in the catalog today
~Adele's third studio album, 25, was released on Friday, so I've only had the chance to listen to it like 8063 times~ 

Adele released her first album, 19, in 2008 after graduating from the BRIT School for Performing Arts & technology. She wrote most of the material for her debut album on her own and named the album for the age at which she did so. She kept the theme going when she released her sophomore album 21 in 2011. The album is deeply autobiographical, exploring the different stages of heartbreak from anger and bitterness to acceptance and eventual forgiveness. Adele is a vocal powerhouse and 21 is one of my absolute favorite albums to be released to this day. 

The wildly anticipated third release delivers what all Adele fans want — big vocals, ballads (heartbroken and otherwise) and the classic soundscape, culled from vintage pop and soul music. Technically, Adele has already made this album two times over. She's swept us off our feet before: stirred our souls so powerfully that 25 is not collectively as game-changing as some might have wanted it to be. It is, however, still a collection of beautifully crafted songs that evoke emotion unlike anything else I've heard this year. “Hello”, the opening track, picks up the heartbreak theme of 21 which documented a tumultuous breakup in her personal life. The new single echoes the reflective mood of the album’s [21] closing track, the piano ballad-turned-anthem “Someone Like You”. The album itself is a collection of torch songs, filled with longing for lost love and mourning for her own faded innocence. The second track, titled "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)", was produced by Max Martin and as a result the song has a very Taylor Swift-esque feel to it. "Send My Love" is more of an upbeat sendoff than anything else. "River Lea" is by far the most powerful song on the album; Adele finds herself filled with self-doubt, apologizing to a future lover for some uncommitted sin. 

The most standout aspect of the album as a whole isn't so much Adele's voice (which is just as phenomenal as always despite recent vocal cord surgery) as it is her delivery. There aren't many artists in the music industry today that convey emotion the way she does. She's authentic. My favorite tracks off 25 resonate strongly with my current situation: "Water Under the Bridge", "Love in the Dark", and "All I Ask". Clearly I'm stuck in one of those post-love ruts at the moment. Of course, after another 10,000 listens and once a little more time has passed, my favorite tracks are bound to change.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Recommended Listen: In Colour by Jamie xx

I was excited for this album to be released in June, if only to tide me over to the next release from The xx-- the group Jamie xx is a member-- but I've come to love it on it's own merit. While this CD isn't nearly as stark or moody as The xx albums, this should still please existing fans and perhaps gain some new ones due to his expanding repertoire. Three tracks feature vocalist Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, both members of the xx. So, even though this is a solo album, he's still got one foot planted in the group. The track that diverts the most is the hip-hop and dance-hall inspired I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times), featuring Popcaan and Young Thug.

What makes this album different from previous efforts is that it's not as cohesive from track to track. It's more diverse: this disc oscillates between house and more-laid back compositions and the aforementioned hip hop/dancehall track. You can dance, or just plain relax to this disc, which isn't true of all electronic albums. My standouts include Sleep SoundObvsHold TightThe Rest is Noise, and Girls, which is my favorite of the pack. This is a definite step forward for Jamie.

In Colour by Jamie xx
Find it in the catalog