Nevertheless, in the light of the expectation that's been heaped on Adele's young shoulders, the sheer ordinariness of 19 comes as a surprise. Largely recorded with Jim Abbiss, the producer of the Arctic Monkeys' debut album, it flits between pretty, acoustic folk ('Daydreamer'), hints of jazz ('Crazy For You'), a touch of Joss Stone-style gospel-pop ('Best For Last') and plenty of acoustic soul (virtually everything else here). Three collaborations with pop hitmaker Eg White (Will Young, Kylie, Natalie Imbruglia) offer fuller production – brass, lashings of strings, even some ill-advised electro bleeps on 'Tired' - but, at their core, Adele's songs are simple, elegant and very self-absorbed. Well, she is a teenager getting over her first love affair, you know.
At times, thanks partly to Adele's predilection for mid-tempo, and partly to her producers' desire to keep things authentically retro, 19 veers towards blandness. The MOR soul of 'Melt My Heart To Stone', for instance, is saved from banality only by a show-stopping vocal from the young Londoner. When Mark Ronson jolts Adele out of her comfort zone for the dramatic, sassy 'Cold Shoulder', getting her to play the wronged woman over some white hot funk percussion, the results are spectacular. Sadly, it's the only cut to which Ronson's golden touch is applied.
However, even 19's less compelling moments are saved by the wonder of Adele's voice. Rich, powerful and husky in all the right places, it's worth every ounce of the praise with which it's been lavished. Though her lyrics can seem naïve – "I like to sit on chairs and you prefer the floor", she explains on 'My Same', seemingly nicking a choice couplet from Paula Abdul's 'Opposites Attract' – she's an engaging presence - alternately sassy, vulnerable, needy, apathetic and even, on 'Hometown Glory', a little bit political. The inescapable conclusion? Though, as an album, 19 rarely attains greatness, it suggests Adele soon will.