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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Adele leaves me cold & Bonnie Raitt doesn't

Bonnie Raitt's version of "I Can't Make You Love Me" is one of my favourite sad records. Raitt's always been brilliant at delivering songs about being overlooked. She makes a nonsense of the idea that you have to write a song to understand it. She understands this song better than the blokes who wrote it.

Adele's done a version too, which isn't surprising. I'm amazed that while the first one moves me the second one doesn't. They're in the same style and by common consent Adele "can sing", whatever that means. There are no egregious lapses of taste and no X Factor flights of melisma. The arrangement is no different. It's done in the same way. It presses the emotional buttons. It just doesn't touch me at all, which I realise puts me in a minority of one.

I'm sure a certain amount of it is prejudice. Bonnie Raitt's been a part of my life since I was 21. There is history between us. I will never be able to look at or listen to Adele in the same way.

But there's something beyond the prejudice, something beyond the inevitable discussion about "kinds of singers". There's something in the notes that come out of the speaker and the way they make me feel. What makes me warm to one and not the other?