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Sound Check

12/9/2015

AdeleAdele
“25”
XL/Columbia

There are a few things in this world that are unarguably, irrefutably, universally true. That Adele is a huge talent blessed with a magnificent voice is certainly one of them. So in that regard, “25” is gorgeous. You can put the album on shuffle, listen to any track independent of the rest of the album, and still be awed. Adele is one of the few performers alive who could release an album with absolutely no accompaniment and still be riveting. However, for as good as “25” is, there is the nagging feeling that we’ve been down this road before. There is nothing here that would sound out of place on “21.” In some ways, that’s great, as “21” was one of the best albums of the year. But when you are blessed with a voice that good, and you have staked your place as a legendary talent that young, people are entitled to expect a little more from each album. “25” takes us in no new directions. Maybe that’s fine enough; it is a familiar road, but the scenery is still beautiful. CV

EnyaEnya
“Dark Sky Island”
Warner Bros.

Enya is another artist who found a bunch of success and stuck to formula. With each successive album, Enya’s work seemed to get looser and less structured — 1995’s “The Memory of Trees” was the last really excellent album she did — but “Dark Sky Island” marks a return of sorts. This album, her first in seven years, is better constructed than anything else she’s done in 20 years and gives us a moment or two of genuine, reflective beauty. Nothing about the album messes with the basic formula that has helped Enya sell 80 million albums, but she plays enough within that structure to give us a couple of different (if not necessarily fresh) looks. “Dark Sky Island” has an effortlessly sweeping sound to it, which is what Enya has always done best. She is not going to revolutionize music in the 21st century, but “Dark Sky Island” doesn’t feels like a relic, either. CV

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