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Album review: Adele's 'Live at the Royal Albert Hall'

Adele cover
The release date for Adele’s “Live at the Royal Albert Hall” CD (which also includes a 90-minute concert DVD) is auspicious, and not because it comes just in time for the holidays. It reminds us of what Adele’s recent throat surgery sought to preserve: her rich and lusty voice that soars to whatever blustery cliffs the songs demand.

Listening to Adele on these 17 songs recorded in her hometown earlier this fall is a bit like watching a pro running back score a touchdown. There’s a great athleticism to her vocals, as she dashes and twists her way through thickets of melody. Sometimes she reserves her energy, dodging around the note; other times she pins it down with a stylish growl. Reliving the songs as she sings them, Adele occasionally lets out a satisfied cackle, like at the end of “If It Hadn’t Been for Love,” a train-yard blues number that could almost be in Tom Waits’ repertoire. Sauntering through the bubbly Bacharach-style jazz on “Right as Rain” from her debut “19,” you can hear the smile on her face.

For all her prowess, “Albert Hall” also catches a few slip-ups from Adele, times when she hits a flat note or showboats to the point of slackening the song’s momentum. Sometimes her band sounds a little thin behind her. But she is human, after all, and this is the first full-length live record of what will likely be many capturing an exciting moment in Adele’s career.


"Live at the Royal Albert Hall"


Three stars (Out of four)


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--Margaret Wappler

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