Take It All / Adele
Well, in case you haven't heard, Nick Lowe is releasing a new album this fall. It's called The Old Magic and from what I've seen of the track list, it's chock-full of new songs, several of which we heard at various Nick shows over the past few months. Here's a link to the Yep Roc Records press release.
I should be thrilled, right? So why am I so ambivalent?
In 2005, when I first became a Nick Lowe fan -- okay, a rabid Nick Lowe fan -- the chap hadn't put out a record in several years; some people even referred to him as "semi-retired." But since then, Nick has released not only the new album At My Age (2006) but long overdue reissues of Jesus of Cool (2008) and Labour Of Lust (2011), a "best of" collection (Quiet Please, 2009), and somewhere else in there a boxset of his 1994, 1998, and 2001 albums (The Brentford Trilogy). To date, I have seen him live over a dozen times, and that's with hardly any major traveling. (Really., I was going out to Chicago anyway...).
[So what does this have to do with Adele? Wait for it.....]
So here's my question: Did I discover Nick Lowe because he was already heading for a late-career revival -- or did I cause it? Because, you know, I have blogged about this guy A LOT, usually in raving, swooning tones. I still feel personally invested in Nick and his career, but -- and this is an odd feeling for me -- being a Nick Lowe fan doesn't make me special anymore. Being a Kinks fan, or a Marshall Crenshaw fan, or a Graham Parker fan, or a Greg Trooper fan, or a Robyn Hitchcock fan, will always feel like joining an elite club of music lovers. (The Paul McCartney thing, I'll grant you, is an aberration...). I like that inner circle feeling.
Okay, so clearly I've got to go sort all this out. In the meantime -- since I've clearly got WAY TOO MUCH invested in being a "special" fan -- let me send myself to the woodshed, and prove that I can also love a #1 hit...
Liking Adele is a wonderfully uncomplicated thing for me. C'mon, I'm a Dusty Springfield fan; how could I not love the power and the passion Adele pours into her voice? Three years ago, when her first album 19 came out, all the buzz was about Amy Winehouse, with the public fascinated by her trainwreck behavior. (Really, people, you should be ashamed.) But here was Adele on the scene at the same time, and I couldn't understand why she wasn't being touted as the real deal in comparison to Amy Winehouse. I'm delighted that she's now been vindicated with a smash hit album (where is Amy Winehouse these days?), and even after being temporarily nudged aside by the heavily subsidized Lady Gaga juggernaut, Adele has quietly returned to the top of the charts. It's refreshing to see that quality sometimes does win out. (Okay, so maybe that explains Nick Lowe too. Maybe.)
If you listen to the radio at all, you have no doubt heard Adele's magnificent "Rolling in the Deep." It's probably been overplayed, in fact, and if you're like me, an overplayed hit single is anathema. So just let me introduce you to this other track from her album, so you can see that the girl has legs. It's a solid, solid album, track after track. Just because it's a hit doesn't mean it's not good.
I realize that the Dusty comparison isn't just because of Adele's range, or the way she plays with her voice, or the back-up vocals -- it's also her no-holds-barred approach to love. "Take it all, take all my love" -- isn't that the sentiment behind all of Dusty's oeuvre? "You're giving up so easily / I thought you loved me more than this" -- it's easy to characterize her as the submissive female, but the fact is, she humbles her male lover with her unconditional passion. Whether or not he deserves it is totally beside the point. Dusty's lovers never deserved it; we only listened to her because she herself was so operatic in her passion. The word is used too loosely these days, but Dusty was a diva -- and I believe that Adele inherits that mantle. I am thrilled to hear she's got a #1 hit. If life were only that fair always!