Adele - 'Chasing Pavements'
I am going to have to be honest here, it can be really scary on the thin ice, not quite knowing which way to jump, especially when a new artist is involved and they might turn out to be AMAZING, but first impressions seem to indicate that even if they are, they're only going to be the kind of AMAZING which happens to other people and not me. I have much the same problem with the Arcade Fire. I see what people like about them, I understand what it is that they do...but I can't make it do for me what it clearly does for other people. Believe me, I've tried!
Which brings me to Adele. The hotly-tipped Adele of one-to-watch fame. The girl who divine providence (and a bunch of music journos) has decided will be The Amy Winehouse Of 2008, only with perhaps a little less of that troublesome tabloid nonsense and a bit more focus on The Quality Of The Music, and stuff.
All of which sounds great! Except that Amy Winehouse only really became properly amazing when she ditched some of the jazzier elements of her muse, replacing them with '60s soul, via a '00s hip hop production. Adele's first really big proper single release seems to have been at the mercy of Maroon 5's production team, sucking out the intimacy out of her acoustic guitar demos and replacing it with an enormous pop sheen.
Normally an enormous pop sheen isn't a problem. I mean the Sugababes/Girls Aloud would both founder if their enormous pop sheen was reduced to a light buffing with a dry cloth. But all it seems to do in this case is diminish the impact of Adele's singing and songwriting skills. I mean the first minute is glorious, she's got a lovely rasp to her voice, and it really comes out when it's not being buried by the howling strings of the chorus. But once The Production takes over, she just seems to get a bit lost.
"But!" splutter the Jools Holland brigade "Adele's music is IMPORTANT, she's far more talented than the Sugababes or Girls Aloud. How dare you make a comparison? She WRITES HER OWN SONGS, DAMMIT!"
Well, that's as maybe. But on the evidence of listening with my ears, someone wants to make this song sound like a GREAT BIG CHART HIT, rather than putting across what it is about Adele that makes her worthy of all the pre-emptive guff. And that's a shame. Because if there is one over-riding lesson we can all take away from Amy Winehouse's bizarre times, it's that character is just as important as talent.
Hopefully I'm wrong, even if it does mean a soaking once this ice finally gives way...
PS: What is her Brit Award all about? She's only just started! Why would anyone believe that giving an award to someone who is just getting going is a good idea? Surely it's just going to get people's backs up? The weight of expectation is deadening, and loads of people really don't like being told what music they are going to like in 2008. And it runs entirely against the 'no hype, just talent' thing that your singer-songwriters are supposed to embody. It's a bad BAD idea. You'd think the 'critics' would have spotted this.