Album: Adele

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The Independent Culture

To win a Brit Award before your debut album is even in the shops – as Adele Adkins has, picking up the inaugural Critic’s Choice award back in December – can backfire badly. Contrarians and those who habitually step out of line with the critical consensus just for the sake of it will besharpening their knives, and the backlash can kick in before the frontlash is even in full swing. It doesn’t help that Adele, a 19-year-old fromTottenham, is yet another alumnus of the BRIT School, swelling the ranks of the junior freemasonry currently choking the charts.

However, this contrarian, for one, can’t bring himself to stick the knife in. Her voice, a just-recovering from- flu croak, is appealing in smallish doses. She’s been compared to Amy Winehouse, due to her retro jazz/blues/soul stylings, but isn’t yet in that league: that croak is too often deployed with insufficient control or guile. Her songwriting ain’t quite there yet either: the single “Chasing Pavements” stands out, but there are too many indistinguishable ballads. The way in which the quality of the material rockets to a higher plateau when she covers Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” tells its own story.