November 25, 2015 Adele – 25 (Album Review)
There is an expectation when listening to an Adele album that one may go through a box of tissues, or several. After dominating the music industry with her thirty million-plus selling sophomore effort, 21, Adele looks likely to takeover and shatter records once again with her third studio album, 25, released November 20, 2015. Her first single, “Hello,” has already been spoofed on Saturday Night Live and by Kermit and Miss Piggy in a commercial for the upcoming The Muppets television series, quickly becoming a Pop culture reference. Her songs are, and have always been, severely honest and dramatic. She is a force of nature and has, once again, swept through the music world leaving a trail of tears in her wake.
The theme of heartbreak is woven through the majority of Adele’s work. It has defined her sound and, though many may have wondered if motherhood would affect the tone of her music, she has not veered too far from what fans have always connected with– her ability to bare her innermost thoughts and feelings. She invites everyone into her soul, both lyrically and through the magic of her voice that is poured into 25. With the help of old and new collaborators, including Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Paul Epworth and Bruno Mars, Adele has managed to create a more diverse collection of tracks. Ultimately, the power, tenderness and dripping emotion of her voice are the driving force of the album.
Centering around nostalgia, Adele refers to her past and lost time, which may seem odd for any other twenty-seven year old. Adele, however, has always had a “beyond her years” quality to her music and the reflective nature of 25 makes this even more apparent. Having one of the most recognizable voices in pop music, Adele uses her power and range to deliver every song with emotion and authenticity. Her voice soars in the chorus of the goosebump-inducing opener and lead single, “Hello,” letting audiences know that she is back with a bang. Next, she offers one of the more vibey, playful tracks on 25, which is unquestionably her collaboration with Max Martin, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).” With an acoustic plucking of the guitar, the song shakes off the remnants of heartbreak and allows Adele to add a little sass as she sings about letting go of the ghosts of her past. This song leans heavily towards a more commercial Pop and radio-friendly sound, which adds a bit of cheeky fun to the album.
She follows with the darker, more brooding, “I Miss You,” which is both lyrically and sonically mesmerizing, providing a haunting melody over a bombastic drum beat. Co-written by returning collaborator Paul Epworth, the song’s atmospheric percussion adds to the sensual husk of Adele’s vocal delivery. She sings, “Pull me in, hold me tight, don’t let go, baby, give me life,” as she lures the listener into the intimate and sexy track. There are many piano-driven ballads on 25, allowing Adele’s voice to be the predominant instrument and giving listeners the Adele experience that they have been missing for the last four years. The tissues may be needed for the thoughtful, “When We Were Young.” She tenderly serenades with words like, “You look like a movie, you sound like a song, My god this reminds me, Of when we were young,” and it is lyrics like this that grab at the heartstrings. Keep the tissues handy as Adele continues with the simple and poignant, “Remedy.” The track falls in line with previous hits like “Turning Tables,” which seems logical considering Ryan Tedder was involved with both songs.
Taking a different turn, “River Lea” evokes a southern, gospel quality that moves the listener to clap and sing along. It is one of the stand-out tracks on the album, speaking of the singer’s roots and the river that runs through her hometown over a Bluesy tonal setting. “Love in the Dark” is another somber and effective piano ballad with the addition an orchestral accompaniment, which only adds to the emotional impact the song provides. Like the other ballads on the album, it displays Adele’s vulnerability and transparency as a singer. The songs that veer off slightly from what listeners have come to expect infuse a delightful balance to 25. While lyrically the songs tend to focus on lamenting the past, as seen again in “Million Years Ago,” the Flamenco-tinged acoustic guitar brings to mind the sound of a sad Spanish lullaby. It is sultry and captivating. One of the most powerful moments on 25 is on the gut-wrenching, “All I Ask.” Co-written by Bruno Mars, the song possesses a gorgeous melody that softly accompanies Adele’s heartbreaking vocals as she soulfully sings, “If this is my last night with you, Hold me like I’m more than just a friend, Give me a memory I can use.” It is a song that will have listeners singing along as they weep.
Adele has a unique ability to appeal to a wide audience. She penetrates the heart of the listener through common themes of love and heartbreak, which everyone experiences at some point in life. However, the truth in her delivery is what makes everyone stop and pay attention. Her final track, the soulful and Bluesy, “Sweetest Devotion,” feels like a celebration. It is an ode to her son that exudes joy, which is a refreshing addition to 25. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.