Adele – 25

adele-25When Adele sang the words “hello, it’s me” a month ago, the world stopped. Listened. And hyped her arrival.

With just those words, Adele announced her return to music and within days, everything was laid out. Album info, tracklisting, collaborators, and the complete single and music video for Hello, the song that quickly became the year’s saving grace.

With so much pressure put upon her following the monstrous success of 21, intensified by the fact that it was the internet and general public – not her or her record label – that did all the hype-work and promotion for 25, Hello was well-received. It stays relatively close to the Adele everyone and their parents fell in love with with her last album. Big voice, relatable lyrics, and the feels.

Adele excels at the feels. It’s amazing how she can take a situation and sing it in such a way that even if you don’t relate directly, you can emphasize with her and feel exactly what she is singing. Her lyrics play such a large role in this because they are notably simple. This is a case where it’s not the actual words but how they are performed that makes the song.

With that in mind, Adele is strongest on 25‘s slower numbers, where she is indisputably the centre of the song. When We Were Young, Hello, and All I Ask are clear winners where Adele’s vocals shine with little else besides a piano and drums to potentially interfere. Even on Million Years Ago, where she is accompanied by just a guitar, she shines brilliantly reminiscent to the way Amy Winehouse did on her stripped down acoustic performances.

It’s a strong contrast to the Max Martin/Shellback-produced Send My Love (To Your New Lover), which was unexpectedly upbeat immediately following Hello on the record. It isn’t quite out of place or character for Adele (or 2005-era Tori Amos for that matter), but is likely to be the soar thumb of the album when time has its way.

More than it already has, of course. Time, or more specifically time gone by, is the primary focus on 25 as Adele references past relationships, memories and places throughout. Where Hello is her attempt at reaching out, When We Were Young is her holding on to the positives of an old relationship. On Million Years Ago, she reminisces about times and places long gone as she sings “I miss the air/I miss my friends/I miss my mother/I miss it when life was a party to be thrown/But that was a million years ago.” She is mourning the past and it’s killer.

There are also songs that look forward. Water Under The Bridge is about the realization that after expecting a relationship to turn sour and it doesn’t, it could be the one, while Sweet Devotion and Remedy both come from her experiences as a mother, as she sings on the former “You will only be eternally the one that I belong to.”

25 captures the best of Adele. It isn’t a stretch from nor is it a recreation of 21. If anything, she’s gotten better at pulling the heartstrings, creating a more effective and emotional record this time out because we knew to expect it and we know to want it.
Four stars

1. Hello
2. Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
3. I Miss You
4. When We Were Young
5. Remedy
6. Water Under The Bridge
7. River Lea
8. Love In The Dark
9. Million Years Ago
10. All I Ask
11. Sweetest Devotion

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