Amidst a changing culture in a music industry turning towards streaming over sales than ever before, musical comebacks and album promotion cycles have become a sign of the times that musical artists are forced to overachieve to keep up. After literal radio silence for almost five years, Adele is more than prepared to meet the challenge of creating in the current cultural landscape with her recently released album titled 30.
Adele is no stranger to holding records and has managed to follow up on the high expectations both she and the music industry placed on her. The pop star catapulted into the public eye with her first single, Hometown Glory, and the following album titled 19 performed excellently in terms of sales, radio play and charting. Both of her following projects also earned high acclaim, with 21 winning two Grammy awards and 25 achieving the status of third best selling album of all time — preceded only by her previous record and Back to Black by Amy Winehouse, one of Adele’s notable influences. Her tours have sold out multiple times, and her notable dedication to her homeland in the United Kingdom has remained a constant throughout her varying career highs.
The singer-songwriter has always been transparent regarding the inspiration for her songs, and this album is no different. After multiple years of silence and promised work behind the scenes, Adele has launched into a press cycle of magazine covers and interviews that detail her process and intentions behind her newest body of work. Self-described in 2019 as a “bass and drums album,” a shift into confidence and reckoning with the heartbreak of divorce leads the sound of the newest project. Known for her passionate ballads surrounding romantic relationships and personal growth, Adele’s own voice and pen have lended themselves to some of her most notable hits, in part to both her voice and lyricism. Read on for track by track thoughts!
Strangers By Nature: This chilling lullaby uses strings and discordant tones to paint a melancholy intro to the record. One could easily see Lana del Rey or Madison Beer singing this type of track, or even Cinderella coursing the halls of her palace. It’s dreamy, and opens up the audience to a rich sonic experience.
Easy On Me: This album’s first and only official single is Adele at her most familiar: alone with a piano. The song’s live renditions and the sweeping video to match, rounded out this impressively performed taste of a comeback.
My Little Love: The first of many tracks on this album one could call “super-sized” with a runtime exceeding six minutes. Many sampled clips of voice memos and video diaries between the singer and her son add emotional context to many of the heavier lyrics, and another display of string production carries audiences along with her.
Cry Your Heart Out: If you expected some up-tempo bops from Adele on this record, trust that she delivered them. This segment of the album is where listeners can tune into Adele’s gospel and soul inspirations, ones she has always paid homage to. This is a fun ditty about moving on, and follows the confident tone of most of the tracks.
Oh My God: Another production heavy track stands out here, as distorted tracks of the singer’s voice weave with bass and drums, some of the new elements Adele promised with her new sound. It’s short and sweet, and sure to be a fan favorite.
Can I Get It: Self described as an ode to the LA dating scene, this rounds out the last of the upbeat tracks about life and love. Leaving listeners on a dry note before delving back into vulnerable confessions, I found this song to be one of the weaker ones.
I Drink Wine: This track was highly anticipated after being performed at Adele’s “One Night Only” event recently, and doesn’t disappoint. Many of the following tracks blend together in terms of open lyrics and classic piano ballads, but this track showcases Adele’s vocals at their best.
All Night Parking (Interlude) (with Erroll Garner): Interludes are never tracks to count out, and I found the dark and chilling tone of this one to be especially effective. It provides pause before the 22 minute stretch of the last four tracks of the album, and sounds beautiful while doing so.
Woman Like Me: This song provides what most listeners think of when they hear “divorce album,” in regards to lyrics about lost love and lost lovers. Low guitar and low vocals bare Adele’s soul in a display of honesty, and this track remains one of my favorites.
Hold On: Slow and steady wins the race, says this song. A piano ballad typical of Adele’s style reveals a soulful take on mental health with a soothing pace.
To Be Loved: I view these last two tracks as a pair of twin flames, a double punch of sentimental soul and lyrics that capture the lessons Adele has learned from life and love in the last few years of absence. By this point in the record, most people could recognize that Adele has returned to her familiar strengths in powerhouse ballads and storytelling that tugs at your heartstrings.
Love is a Game: In a full circle moment of cohesion, the fairytale strings and harmonies close out this album. Audiences are left with a resonant echo and luxurious indulgence into the world Adele has just created with her voice and newfound maturity, the true star of the project.
This much remains clear: as Adele prepared to share the next chapter of her story, the world has patiently awaited what she would sing. You can find 30 on any streaming platform or music sales store now!
By Leah Ollie, Freshman, Butler University