Swell Adele

Soul-baring Brit upstart makes waves


ADELE at the Rivoli, Wednesday (March 26). 19+. Sold Out. Rating: NNNNN


Adele has a secret love of big- screen bloodshed.

“I like films with guns in them,” she laughs, sitting in bed at home in London, UK.

That may have something to do with her remedy for a broken heart. Her first full-length record, 19, which recently topped the British charts, has a certain degree of artistic vengeance to it. It chronicles her whirlwind romance and breakup with an ex-boyfriend.

Following a record deal with indie label XL in 2006, Adele holed up in her bedroom with her guitar and wrote nine of the album’s songs in only two weeks.

“I tried to write fictional songs, songs about other people, but I couldn’t do it. My songs are completely personal, completely autobiographical. It never crossed my mind that I’d have to sing about someone I hate every day. I wrote the songs to get him out of my system.”

This process of self-excavation seems to work for Adele. Her album is a collection of introspective love songs that move between folky R&B, classic soul and catchy pop.

She does sometimes try to convey anger or harshness in her crystal-clear voice, inspired by her long-time model, Etta James.

James’s tonality, not her words, Adele explains, had to carry her feelings, because she was singing other people’s songs.

“I write all my music, and when I sing with compassion, with conviction, it’s because what I sing about really hurts me. Every time I sing it, I remember why I wrote it and who I wrote it about.”

Calling up those old feelings of first love lost may be difficult for the 19-year-old, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She wants her songs to be believable and for people to be able to access her emotions. Performing in front of a crowd is the most rewarding part of being a musician for Adele, although she confesses she still gets queasy before shows.

“I love singing but I never really wanted to be a singer. It’s hard to want to do something you think won’t happen.”

While this sentiment may characterize her approach to romance, it certainly doesn’t reflect her recent sudden success in pop music, a reality Adele says she’s still trying to wrap her head around.

She has actually been performing since the age of 11, when she sang her heart out to an elementary school crowd of 500 – with the microphone unplugged. But Adele’s humility and unwavering desire to sing may grant her longevity as a songwriter.

“Writing such a personal album has its advantages, in that everyone can relate to it, but its obvious disadvantage is that all the paparazzi and journalists are trying to find out who he is or who I’m dating. That’s the only downside – people being nosy about my private life.”

Like fellow soulful singer and Brit School for Performing Arts graduate Amy Winehouse, Adele finds the attention paid to young pop stars who bare all overwhelming. For her, the key to staying out of trouble has been simple: avoid the booze and stay at home playing Monopoly.

“I would give up a lot more than my private life to sing. I would give up anything, but what some people have to give up for their dream is ridiculous. Luckily for me, I’ve had an easy ride of it so far.”

Audio Clips

Adele speaks about the pressures in music:

Adele talks about being part of an independent label:

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Adele describes her influences:

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music@nowtoronto.com

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