Adele, '19' (XL/Columbia)

5
'19'
Critical Mass
Label: XL/Columbia

by Barry Walters

Twenty-year-old Londoner Adele Atkins lives up to her "Sound of 2008" hype, in that she represents a highly commercial compromise between Amy Winehouse's genuine soul danger (19's bracing singles "Chasing Pavements" and "Cold Shoulder") and James Blunt's shlocky pop safety (virtually everything else). Atkins flaunts her fashionable cockney warble with least success on her debut's glut of mawkish breakup ballads, where the gap between serious intention and blandly clunky results suggests My Fair Lady's Eliza Doolittle before she learned how to enunciate "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain."

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