Two years (and a bit) on from 19, Adele Adkins comes of age sounding as wise beyond her years as she did in 2008. While 19 detailed the end of a relationship with "an idiot", 21 is about the end of something great. There's cheating, jealously, joy and heartbreak contained within; all stripped into shape by a galactico squad sheet of producers – starting with Rick Rubin and Ryan Tedder and working down to current British studio darlings Paul Epworth and Fraser T Smith. But it's former Semisonic man Dan Wilson who is responsible for the album's highlight, the gorgeous Someone Like You, certain to be coming soon to a montage near you. The tale of Adkins facing up to the end of a love – "never mind, I'll find someone like you" – is half heart-wrenching, half uplifting. It's nearly good enough reason to break up with someone, simply so you can mope in it. Other moments of note come in a Sufjanesque takedown of the Cure's Lovesong; the single Rolling in the Deep (inspired by a Nashville-schooled US tourbus driver) and the immediately familiar, Dusty-does-Dulwich sound of I'll Be Waiting. A progressive, grown-up second collection, it ought to ensure Adele is around for 23, 25, 27 and beyond.
Will Dean is an editor on the Guardian's Saturday magazine