mon 06/12/2021

Album: Adele - 30 | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Adele - 30

Album: Adele - 30

An authentic journey of emotional vulnerability

Adele's new album, '30'

For those of you who didn’t think it was possible for Adele to up her stakes in the game of soul-baring, think again. Her first album in six years is here and it is as raw as it is rowdy, as searing as it is silk, as relatable as it is enjoyably escapist.

30 begins with warm-up song “Strangers By Nature”, a retro kitsch drift with dreamy strings and the melancholic caress of Karen Carpenter, ending with a spoken word line in that distinct Tottenham accent, “Alright then I'm ready”. Deep breath.

The first single, as you will know given the abundance of radio play in the feverish anticipation of this album dropping, is “Easy On Me”. Current Spotify download is at 283,959,350 and counting. This is Adele’s “Hello”. Her “Someone Like You”, her “Chasing Pavements”. If add-to-queue on repeat isn’t part of your daily practice by now and you don't already know every lyric and upward inflection of this song, you don't actually exist.

With “My Little Love” comes a turning point music-wise, statement-wise, human-wise. It’s a brave heartbreaker of extraordinary proportions, immortalising the apology to her son for the pain of divorce. With the softest velvet of jazz and a yearning that tears the tissue of your heart, she sings “Mama's got a lot to learn” with a refrain of “it’s heavy” and “teach me”. The music is overlaid with a very real, very teary conversation with the nine-year-old, in which she says: “Mummy’s having a lot of big feelings” and “I feel a bit confused… like I don't really know what I'm doing.” The song is drenched in the power of vulnerability, with the last lines delivered through a teary voice: “I feel lonely” and then with the catch of a sob, “I feel a bit frightened that I might feel like this a lot.” Ironically, this powerful admittance will make so many others feel less alone.

“I Drink Wine” (a fave for the title alone) is a contemplative balled of inner monologue that sloshes around the wise line, “Why am I am obsessing about things I can't control.” Adele does that thing she does, singing “listen” at the beginning of a bridge, which gives you the feeling that all ensuing lines are delivered directly to you and you alone. She draws you in and holds you tight. This blade and authenticity is her superpower.

The raw emotion and savage truths of confessional pop songs is lifted by the Motown groove of “Cry Your Heart Out”; top tinkling in rolling waves, beat boxy bass and urban sass of “All Night Parking”; “Woman Like Me” that begins with haze and candlelight and ends with R&B and upbeat whistle of “Can I Get It”.

“To Be Loved” at the end of the album looks inwardly back to the same era as “Easy On Me”. Slow, deep solo piano chords stretch into long luxurious phrases, strong held notes and rolling between registers. It begins meek and builds up to a strong chorus, before dipping back down to vulnerable verses – traversing musical ups and downs in reflection of the undulations of love and life. With a powerful burst and signature growl, she declares "let it be known that I tried", singing her guts out in gravelly crescendo.

30 shows how far Adele has come from singing about “I want to find a man like you/please love me back” and relationships with guys who have done her wrong. She seems to be in a place now that says “here’s how I want to show up for myself in a way that is authentic and real, even if that is complex, messy and terrifying”. It’s a brave place to work from, and one that has produced some of her strongest, most soulful and spine-tingling sounds to date.

Watch the video for "Easy On Me"

She draws you in and holds you tight. This blade and authenticity is her superpower

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