For all the truth about not being able to put an old head on young shoulders, Adele Adkins is coping just fine. On these stories of lovers gone and wronged the 22-year-old sounds like someone who's racked up decades of dear lessons, while the pressure of following up Grammy-winning debut '18' hasn't fazed her.

The adoption forms for '21's big ballads will, once again, be signed by many, but the album also offers signposts for where Adkins can take her music in the future. On 'Rumour Has It' and 'Rolling in the Deep' grit and stomp provide a devilish contrast to the lushness to be savoured elsewhere, and the Latin reworking of The Cure's 'Lovesong' shows someone with the guts to tackle a classic and make it their own.

The lyric "You and I have history" sounds like it will carry even more weight in the years to come - here's to '25', '30' and hopefully '50'.

Harry Guerin