Bringin' on the heartache

UK soul warbler Adele washes up stateside

Twenty-year-old North London–born heartbreak crooner Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, or simply Adele to her fans, has had some big breaks amid her romantic woes. She appeared in 2007 on the BBC alongside Paul McCartney and Björk, and performed this past October on a Saturday Night Live episode that not only included Sarah Palin, Mark Wahlberg, Oliver Stone, and Tina Fey, but was seen by 17 million viewers.

Since then, her Burt Bacharach–styled symphonic pop hit "Chasing Pavements" has been ubiquitous, receiving constant airplay on local stations like Alice 97.3 FM. Her debut, 19 (XL/Columbia), is nominated for four Grammys, but Adele has had a tough time shaking comparisons to other British female neo-Motown vocalists such as Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Lily Allen. "We're a gender, not a genre," she quipped recently to London Guardian reporter Hannah Pool, revealing the same strong, honest qualities heard in her music. Adele's songs revel in love's bittersweet see-saw emotions ("Crazy for You," "Melt My Heart to Stone") while her equally elastic voice recalls Dusty Springfield and Jill Scott.

No telling if her luck will hold up, but with a new album for 2009, her formidable voice, and self-assured performances, Adele's likely to outlast the trends.


With James Morrison

Jan. 29, 8 p.m., $24


982 Market, SF

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