The female edition of the latest British Invasion continues this week with the arrival of Adele Adkins, a 19-year-old Londoner with, no surprise here, an affinity for strains of soul music largely forgotten by U.S. artists.

The female edition of the latest British Invasion continues this week with the arrival of Adele Adkins, a 19-year-old Londoner with, no surprise here, an affinity for strains of soul music largely forgotten by U.S. artists. Her phrasing, for the most part, veers toward the softer R&B singers, a bit of Dionne Warwick, Minnie Ripperton and Dusty Springfield sharing a pot of tea in a plush and comfortable room.

“19″ is a most agreeable, soulful album, a varied mix of classic pop textures and songs in which she is the one left alone to dwell on romance gone wrong. Yes, Amy Winehouse comparisons are justified in spots. But whereas Winehouse, Kate Nash, Lily Allen, Joss Stone and Duffy are plowing single plots of R&B soil, Adele is taking a broader perspective, assimilating various pre-disco R&B styles to create a field with the potential to bear fruit for years to come. What she lacks is a “Rehab,” a song that uses the vocals and a handful of words to intoxicate the listener.

“Cold Shoulder,” the funkiest rack, and the booming ballad “Melt My Heart Stone” are the closest she comes to loitering in Winehouse territory. Elsewhere, “Crazy for You” draws on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”; “Chasing Pavements,” a stellar track with swirling strings that fuse it with distinction; “First Love” is a cute lullabye; and “Right as Rain” is as perfect a summer jam as we have heard this year.

Adele - '19'

XL/Columbia
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