Adele 19, Universal Music

This young chanteuse hails from South London, UK and if you fell in love with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, you’ll have to make room in your heart for one more.

Adele Adkins attended the same arts school as Kate Nash, Lily Allen and Leona Lewis. They must be putting something in the water at that school (and judging from British teeth, we know it’s not fluoride!) Snide stereotypical jokes aside, one thing the British are managing to do these days is produce talented young female artists.

Here’s the story of Adele: She graduated from BRIT School in Croydon in May 2006. Soon after her friend Jamie.T (another UK artist I’ve showcased on music reviews) signed her to his label Pacemaker Recordings and released her first single “Hometown Glory“, in which she sings her praises of Tottenham. Her myspace page soon exploded with hits, BBC started to notice that her star was on the rise and by December of 2007 she was awarded with the first Brit Awards Critics’ Choice prize. She was also selected by UK music critics, editors and broadcasters as the winner in the BBC 6 Music’s Sound of 2008 poll for acts to emerge in the coming year.

She’s currently in the throes of her first world tour and all this before she turns 20 on May 5th. To say this has been a whirlwind for Adele would be an understatement. She often evokes comparisons to Amy Winehouse, but in my opinion her music has yet to reach the caliber of production and songwriting that Winehouse has attained. This isn’t to say that she’s not as talented as her fellow BRIT alumnus, perhaps just a bit raw at the moment. This year’s Grammy sweetheart Winehouse, had an album before Back in Black called Frank which failed to make an impact outside of the UK and in my opinion is good but not great. It often takes time for young singers to refine their sound and Adele is definitely on the right path. Her debut album 19 is a great start. Singles “Hometown” and “Chasing Pavements” are the best on the album, but the rest of the album is simply not on the same level as the aforementioned songs. If she can manage to write and perform an entire album as good as those two songs, the comparisons to Winehouse will stop and we might just see a new British chanteuse collecting a Grammy or two.

Adele is one of the next big things coming out of the UK and you definitely won’t regret checking her out.

Read reviews of Pascale Picard and YOAV.

Image of Pascale Picard courtesy of Picard, Zone 3*DEP/Universal

There appears to be an amazing surge of Canadian music happening as of late; Feist, Joel Plaskett, Chromeo and others are proving to the world that Canadian talent should not be overlooked. Pascale Picard is yet another talented Canuck musician making waves in the international music community as well as at home. She’s been nominated for the “Artist of the Year” Juno at this year’s awards and already has legions of fans in her native Quebec. Although her debut album Me Myself and Us was released in April of last year, I only recently discovered it and I feel obliged to inform the good readership of this quality music (thank you Mademoiselle Picard, you make my job here easy). “Gate 22” is the single that has got the buzz going and it’s definitely worthy of such attention. The music is best described as folk pop but Pascale Picard is capable of rocking out on the occasional track.

Annoying” is reminiscent of a young Alanis Morisette with bitter lyrics and a few strategically placed f-bombs. Personally my favorite track is the first one on the album called “Thinking of it“. This song showcases the multifaceted talents of Picard, bringing together her emotive songwriting, her vocal range and her ability as a guitar player. As songwriter and singer, Pascale Picard is undoubtedly destined for big things in the future and as Canadians, we have yet another reason to brag about our homegrown talent.

YOAV, Universal Music

It’s been a bit of an estrogen overload so far in this month’s music reviews so I thought I’d better include a new comer who is nothing but man. First of all ladies, this London-based hottie is very easy on the eyes; stick him on the guitar and in front of a mic, and I guarantee you’ll be in lust…er I mean love (no I didn’t). Don’t get me wrong, his debut album Charmed and Strange proves that Yoav is far more than a pretty face. If you’re in need of a comparison to imagine the sound, think of a less whiny David Usher with Dave Matthews guitar skills and a bit of Jeff Buckley thrown in for good measure. The South African native describes his music as “left-of-centre pop music” and he’s hit the nail on the head. Armed with a guitar, simple effects and an incredible amount of vocal talent, Yoav’s debut album is nothing if not easy to like. You’ll love “Club Thing” for its toe-tapping tune and sarcastic lyrics, you’ll want to learn “Beautiful Lie” on your guitar to impress your friends around the campfire and you’ll put his cover of the Pixies’ “Where is my Mind” on repeat just because it’s awesome. This is an excellent debut album no doubt, and if Yoav is as diversely talented as we are led to believe, we can expect a lot more great music from him in the future.

Stumbled upon…

This month I want to introduce you to Kristoffer Ragnstam, a Swedish musician who I think is worth having a listen to. Check out his myspace page and let me know what you think!

Let me know what you think! E-mail me at [email protected].

Image of Pascale Picard courtesy of