Adele’s long-awaited followup to 19 and 21 (based on her age when she wrote the material) is finally out, amid huge expectations. Her first two albums sold millions and netted her more than a dozen Grammy nominations, three of which she converted into trophies, and in between albums she released the hugely popular theme song to the previous James Bond movie, “Skyfall”.
The album’s lead single “Hello” kicks off the album in fine form (and check out the brilliant video directed by Xavier Dolan). Adele’s voice is still amazing (despite having surgery on it a few years back) and motherhood hasn’t wiped the soul that prevails in her music. She has much more melancholy in her voice that anyone her age should have known.
On first listen, I felt let down by the two tracks that followed, as if the magic of Adele was gone. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” seems to stray a little into Katy Perry territory, and “I Miss You” is nothing spectacular. But “When We Were Young” wiped any doubts away. It is a fantastic song, with an amazing vocal performance that stands as one of her best. It’s a little strange to hear someone her age sing nostalgically about “getting old” and “when we were young”; hey Adele, 27 is a pretty rad age. Enjoy the ride, you still have a long way to go.
“Water Under the Bridge”, with its triumphant chorus, will probably be a single at some point. “River Lea” is another great Adele song; a simple arrangement that provides a bed for her voice. “Love in the Dark” and the album closer, “Sweet Devotion” also stand out from the rest.
The 11 tracks grab you and swallow you in the smooth ambiance they create. More than once I played the album only to be surprised by “Hello” coming round again; the music draws you in and there is no time anymore, just her amazing voice. The songwriting never gets as powerful as “Some Like You” or “Set Fire to the Rain”, but there’s plenty of excellent material here.
Hello Adele, welcome back.