Adele’s triumphant return to music with her album ‘25’ should only be described as just that: a triumph. For those who’ve painstakingly yearned for nearly five years for her third album to drop, you’ll be happy to know the wait was not in vain. After one listen, your ears will not feel worthy.
When Adele, 27, released her first single off the highly-anticipated album ’25’ a few weeks ago, it was like the Brit was personally calling the world like an old friend. Since then, ‘Hello’ has sat comfortably atop the iTunes and Billboard charts, just waiting for the rest of the album to join it. With its release on Nov. 20, fans finally were treated to a collection of songs straight from the soul of Adele herself — and a lot has changed.
Here’s what’s interesting: for most artists these days, growing your music means experimenting with the sound and evolving with the technological landscape of music. Nothing wrong with that, but when you’re Adele, releasing a more ‘grown up’ record means something quite differnt. Nothing about ’25’ is over-produced; you won’t find any EDM tracks or even full-scale orchestrations. Most of her songs are dominated by a single acoustic instrument and her powerful, signature voice — and after recovering from a debilitating case of hemorrhaged vocal chords, it’s a pleasure to listen to a record that allows her voice to be the star and give it the room to shine as bright as a supernova.
Perhaps that’s why “Hello” was chosen as the lead single for the record. Originally, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” a more upbeat, poppy song, reminiscent of the scorned singer found on ’21’ was considered as the first release. But that track, while catchy and a fun listen, doesn’t truly embody Adele’s intended ambition with “25”. Instead, many of the songs feature Adele accompanied by a single instrument. “All I Ask,” a song about holding onto a love that is at its end, is just a piano and the Brit, belting her heart out, making you feel her sorrow. (Think Bruno Mars‘ “When I Was Your Man”, which is appropriate considering The Smeezingtons produced both tracks). Same goes for “Remedy,” co-written by Ryan Tedder, and my personal favorite track. With just the piano and her voice to guide the lyrics, you can really appreciate what she’s singing about, as well as how beautiful it sounds when she sings.
For those of you itching for the second coming of a “Rumor Has It” type track, I’m afraid the scorned lover Adele used to be doesn’t make much of an appearance on this record. In “25,” it seems more like the Brit is exploring the challenges of being in love, how to overcome the obstacles of staying in love, and how to walk away from it when its over. Songs like “Love In The Dark” and “When We Were Young” highlight her unique edge and insight when singing about lost love, and “Water Under The Bridge” is a perfect ode to a dysfunctional relationship that you just can’t shake free of.
Overall, ’25’ feels more reflective and introspective than ’21’. The rage over whoever shattered her heart those many years ago isn’t gone, but it has evolved. Now she’s all about exploring what it means to fight to stay in love and giving all of yourself to a relationship. She closes the album with “Sweetest Devotion,” a track I can only assume is dedicated to her little family of boyfriend Simon Konecki, 41, and son Angelo. “There is something about the way you love me,” she sings, “that finally feels like home.”
What do you think, Hollywoodlifers? Do you love Adele’s new album?
— Dina Sartore-Bodo