One needs go no further than opener (and single) “Rolling in the Deep” to hear the power and earnestness in her voice. A single look at press photo will show a thankfully (let me repeat, thankfully!) real-sized woman with a witheringly intense gaze. One performance is all it take to be wowed by her stage presence and absolute command of the stage (without sexed-up dance moves! Can I get an “amen” up in this place?).
Speaking of “amen”s, gospel undertones appear throughout “21,” lending it a timeless sound that will only push her to higher heights. “Rumour Has It” (check that extra British “u”) is the best ’50s/’60s diva tune never written, and that’s high praise over here. Stark closer “Someone Like You” will rip your heart out, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it until tears come out. She even does an acoustic cover of “Lovesong” by The Cure. This girl is straight-up gold.
Other than a couple of Celine Dion oversinging moments scattered throughout the album (which I’m attributing to the fact that she’s 22 years old, people), there’s nothing here that says anything but, “Star! Star! Star!” Can we get her hooked up with Jack White (her press materials say she idolizes Wanda Jackson, wink wink, nudge nudge) and produce the greatest diva album of all time?
Thank me later. Make checks to … —Stephen Carradini