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Video: Adele’s powerhouse “Rolling in the Deep”

Access Hollywood
updated 2/25/2011 2:13:26 PM ET 2011-02-25T19:13:26

It’s been two years since Adele exploded on the scene with her debut album, “19,” walking away with a Grammy for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Performance for her soulful hit, “Chasing Pavements.” Now, the British songstress is back with a new, American-influenced sound for her highly anticipated sophomore album, “21,” and let me tell you — her newfound sound works.

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I have to admit that prior to October 2010, I really wasn’t all that familiar with Adele. I was vaguely aware of “Chasing Pavements” and remember seeing her perform on “Saturday Night Live,” thinking, “Hmmm… She’s got a good voice” — but that was the extent of my experience with the English artist.

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One of my best friends happens to be a huge Adele fan — like, huge — so when the opportunity arose to attend a preview performance of her new work at an intimate LA venue I agreed to attend on the condition that I could bring my favorite “plus one.” Little did I know I would be the one who benefited.

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The small invite-only crowd was comprised of industry peeps and record label execs and somehow, (thanks, Access!), our seats were front and center. As a pianist/musician myself, I thought, “OK, even if I don’t love the songs, she’s a talented singer-songwriter and there’s a shiny black baby grand nearly within arm’s reach, so, Ill get some sort of inspiration out of this.”

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When Adele took the mic she humbly introduced herself, indulged us with some self-deprecating humor, admitted she was dreadfully nervous, then gave her pianist the cue to begin. She opened her mouth… and my jaw literally dropped. I was awestruck by the enormity of her voice! I felt the goose bumps rise immediately (and sustained an elbow bruise as my friend and I both whipped toward each other at lightning speed to whisper, “Oh my GOD, I have chills!” simultaneously, resulting in an arm collision), and the rest is history — I am a F-A-N.

The rich, warm, full tone of her voice proceeded to fill the small theater (in a way that can’t be captured on CD, etc.), and, what’s even more mind-blowing is that the incredible power of her voice seems to emanate effortlessly from her pipes. It’s quite amazing to witness live.

That said, I spent a few hours at the piano trying to sound out what I could remember from the performance, as I was devastated to learn I would have to wait for three months before her album would be released for review. Now, the day has finally arrived, and let me tell you, Adele’s second album does not disappoint.

The album’s first track, “Rolling In The Deep,” became an instant favorite of mine. Heavily influenced by Rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, the track easily earned a place among my top foot stomping, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” revenge anthems!

Video: Adele’s powerhouse “Rolling in the Deep” (on this page)

With its unrelenting beat and pounding drums, the lyrics include deliciously satisfying threats such as, “Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your sh*t bare,” and, my personal favorite, “Think of me in the depths of your despair –make a home down there ‘cause mine sure won’t be shared,” while the background vocals repeatedly warn, “You’re gonna wish you never had met me.” YESSSSS!

I listen to this song on repeat while driving to work every morning and one foot instinctively taps the down beat while my hands snap the accompanying rhythms (yes, I’m a multi-tasker). I’m telling you — if you are physically capable of moving and you aren’t moving when this song comes on, there’s a good chance that you literally do not have a soul.

Don’t believe me? The album isn’t due to drop for another week and “Rolling” has already been featured on The CW’s “90210” and on a preview for the new Alex Pettyfer/Dianna Agron Sci-Fi thriller, “I Am Number Four.” I have no idea why the film’s producers thought this song screamed, “Totally appropriate for teen science fiction story about aliens!” but who cares? I’m thrilled that it’s getting play.

Adele enlisted the creative genius of OneRepublic songsmith Ryan Tedder for the album’s second and third tracks, the catchy clap-infused “Rumour Has It” and heartfelt breakup ballad, “Turning Tables.”

Track 4, “Don’t You Remember?” was written as a “sort of answer” to Lady Antebellum’s Song and Record of the Year Grammy winning mega hit, “Need You Now.” The 22-year-old singer said she “holed herself up in Malibu” for awhile writing this album and found herself attracted to and inspired by American country music – so much so, that she’s considering spending some time in Nashville to pursue the sound further.

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Next comes “Set Fire To Rain,” which moves the album’s mood from pining country more in the direction of electronic pop. I actually really like this track (I’m a sucker for just about anything in a minor key), but the accompanying instruments are a bit too Hilary-Duff-pop-synthesizer sounding for my taste. It sounds slightly unfinished – like the rhythms were laid down straight from my Casio keyboard circa 1987. That said, I still play it and sing my heart out to it.

Track 6, “He Won’t Go,” moves into jazzy R&B territory, reminiscent of Heather Headley. Track 7, “Take It All,” begins to reveal more of the shock and desperation angle of an unwanted breakup, begging, “Don’t look back at this crumbling fool – just take it all with my love.” Led with a sole piano punctuated by occasional bursts from a choir (YES!), Adele peels back the layers and begins to prepare the listener for the magnitude of “21’s” final heartbreaking track… but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Track 8, “I’ll Be Waiting,” is pretty, but didn’t particularly grab me. The verdict is still out on this one. Moving on…

Track 9, “One and Only,” is a nostalgic, malt-shop-esque/doo-wop number that reminds me of Celine Dion’s 1996 hit, “I Love You,” with its driving waltz beat.

Next, Adele beautifully covers The Cure’s 1989 hit, “Love Song” — and I enjoy her stripped-down version more than the original. With just a subtle acoustic guitar and a hint of Spanish flare, Adele conveys a maturity and comfort with herself that is hauntingly seductive and honestly, just plain sexy. Get it, girl!

And finally, we’ve come to the album’s final track, “Someone Like You.” This gut-wrenching ballad is the quintessential breakup song and reveals unexpected depth from someone who was barely old enough to legally drink when she wrote it. It’s so spot on even she has trouble singing it because, as Adele said at our show, it makes her “fumingly upset.”

With a soft piano intro, the song opens with, “I heard that you’re settled down, that you found a girl and you’re married now / I heard that your dreams came true – guess she gave you things I couldn’t give to you.”

Grab the tissues everyone… it’s that stick-the-knife-in-and-twist-it unrequited love feeling that hurts so deeply, yet at the same time, if you haven’t experienced it at least once in your lifetime, you really haven’t lived.

Adele explains the inspiration behind the incredible ballad in a video posted on her official YouTube channel (click HERE to watch!), saying, “When I was writing it, I was feeling pretty miserable, pretty lonely… This one was kind of like, on my knees really.

“I can imagine being about 40 and looking for him again,” she continues. “And turning up and he’s settled and he’s got a beautiful wife and some beautiful kids and he’s completely happy and I’m still on my own. It’s about that.”

Adele paints such a vivid picture with her lyrics that it’s almost uncomfortable to accompany her through the journey of this song – you can visualize the hesitantly hopeful reunion and that stomach-dropping moment when she awkwardly realizes he’s moved on.

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“I hate to show up out of the blue uninvited but I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it,” she sings. “I had hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me, it isn’t over…”

The chorus climaxes in a line of utter desperation — “Don’t forget me, I beg, I remember you said, ‘Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.’”

Breathtakingly… heart-breakingly… beautiful.

Bottom line, Adele’s “21” goes above and beyond a typical sophomore album and should garner her the same critical acclaim and respect she earned when she emerged at age 19 as a budding young artist.

Catch “21” in its glorious entirety when the album hits stores on February 22.

Copyright 2013 by NBC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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