March 22, 2023
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Life & Culture

Review: Adele’s latest embraces a beautiful vulnerability


Republic Records

Adele’s newest album, “30,” has been highly anticipated ever since her chart-topping album “25” was released six years ago. In her latest release, the 2016 “Album of the Year” recipient elaborates on her divorce — which she called “the most turbulent period” of her life.

In “30,” Adele explores jazz, soul, funk and R&B while still preserving some of her music’s familiar aspects like her relatability. Though the singer’s most popular work has consisted of pop-ballads, this album features a more fitting, soulful sound. 

Adele’s emotional vulnerability is one of her greatest strengths throughout her discography, and “30” is no exception. Her voice carries a richness that translates the emotion of her lyrics in a transcendental manner.

Soul runs throughout the entire album, but it is in the song “Hold On” that Adele unveils her inner Aretha Franklin. Although the classic soul-belt sound does not seem to come quite as naturally to Adele, she thoroughly embellishes the simple chordal piano accompaniment in “Hold On” with impassioned wails. Even though most of the higher belts on “30” are cut short with some strain in the voice, the songs “Hold On” and “To Be Loved” have moments where Adele projects her voice brilliantly — like in the ending of “To Be Loved,” which features an amazing belt. 

While there are lovely moments of instrumentation in “30,” like the use of synthesizers in the opening song “Strangers by Nature,” the vocals are the most impressive aspect of “30.” 

This album finds a way to be both grim and lively. “Cry Your Heart Out” is an upbeat pop-soul emotional cry for help and sounds like it could have been written by a modern Amy Winehouse. In the song “I Drink Wine,” Adele lusciously pleads for contentment in her life over a swinging piano. The upbeat songs of “30” include themes of triumph, like in the track, “Love Is a Game.” Adele’s riffs and soaring middle voice belts sound easy and free throughout “30,” particularly in the songs “Hold On,” “To Be Loved” and “Love Is A Game.”  

“All Night Parking (interlude)” is the most creative, interesting and experimental song on “30.” This melodically simple song features famous jazz pianist Erroll Garner, making Garner the first artist to be featured on an Adele album. Garner’s playing gorgeously flourishes under Adele’s comforting vocals. The jazz piano is engagingly juxtaposed with a simple electroacoustic beat in a way that makes for a soothing, polished and dreamlike jazz piece.

Adele’s wonderful writing has always seemed to come from unadulterated sentiment and truth and yet, in “30,” the British singer-songwriter reveals more of herself than ever before. Throughout “30,” it is readily apparent to the listener that Adele was struggling to find peace in the midst of her divorce from her ex-husband Simon Konecki. 

In “Easy On Me,” which was initially released as a promotional single, Adele asks for forgiveness from her 8-year-old son Angelo for needing to separate from his father for her own happiness. She sings, “I changed who I was to put you both first / But now I give up.” “30” is flush with emotive lyrics like these — Adele has allowed her listeners to relate with her the same way they have on every single one of her other deeply emotional albums. 

“30” is brimming with authenticity, pain and strength. Each song reveals more than the last and these truths are all displayed through a multitude of styles, but even the pop songs carry weight in their lyrics and acoustics. 

It would have been easy for Adele to stick to a formula that would have guaranteed top spots on The Billboard Hot 100, but instead she has taken risks and provided the world with refreshing but still deeply personal and relatable material. It is safe to say that Adele’s “30” was well worth the wait.