Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 26 Apr
This article is from 2008.
Nineteen-year-old South Londoner Adele has some big shoes to fill. Already being hailed as ‘the New Queen of British Soul’ and ‘the New Amy Winehouse’, she bagged the Critics Choice prize at the Brit awards before her first record was even out. Fresh from the BRIT School sausage factory that has recently squeezed out chart-bothering singers like Katie Melua, Amy Winehouse and Kate Nash, their latest offering sounds like they might have thrown a little Lisa Stansfield or Alison Moyet into the mincemeat too.
With her grown-up, throaty, soul-flavoured sound, the comparisons with Amy Winehouse were inevitable; closely followed by a few suspicions about clever marketing men with shiny pound signs flashing in their eyes. Her debut album, 19, released in January by XL Recordings, who pride themselves on one-off artists like Devendra Banhart, M.I.A. and Dizzee Rascal, was Adele’s chance to prove whether she was just another well-timed cash-in, or a genuine new talent.
Her voice is the kind of goosebump-making belter that would batter the most cynical of critics into submission, but the material – with lots of sugary lines about heart melting first loves and daydreaming – is perhaps too advert-friendly to give her the edge needed to punch Amy off her drug-addled top-spot. Her hit single ‘Chasing Pavements’ showed she could comfortably twist her elastic vocals around infectious pop ditties, just like retro troubadour flavour-of-the-month Duffy, and her pro size-16 stance makes a welcome break from the ‘look at me!’ desperation of other girl singers who seem as though they flipped a coin before deciding between a career in underwear modelling or music making.
It’s not her fault she still lives with her mum rather than in a rehab clinic, but if the soul label is going to stick, she may need to replace some of the saccharine in her music with something slightly grittier. The voice is already there, and the gobby charisma she oozes probably means she’ll have the bolshiness needed to break away from bland pop gloss into something more distinct. After all, that’s pretty much how the old Amy Winehouse made it.