Words by TJ Kliebhan
Adele’s physical appearance has never been what distinguished her from other pop stars as much as conventional media outlets want you to think. Pop musicians that fail to fit the mold of what a mainstream star looks like are not necessarily extinct, but Adele was still different. The Tottenham lass is the kind of girl you’d find kicking her feet up at the end of the bar and cussing up a storm. She’s as limey as they come, and exudes the working class attitude that still drives British culture.
This unique profile is magnified by the fact that her first two records featured some of the most honest songwriting found in pop music, with themes of heartbreak and unrequited love drawing empathy from a remarkably wide audience. The singer-songwriter returns for her third album, 25.
The album opens up with the smash hit single “Hello”, which feels like a vintage Adele track. The song has a huge catchy chorus with Adele’s powerful voice driving the song – and the entire album for that matter. Everyone tunes into an Adele record to hear beautiful vocal gymnastics, and in that regard 25 absolutely delivers. Her voice is so unique and robust that it demands the attention, always keeping the listener unsure of how long she will hold a note, or what ways she will stretch her vocal chords next.
The album features a nice variety of instrumentation and production. Tracks like “Send My Love” and “Million Years Ago” see Adele crooning over smooth guitar tracks while “Remedy” and “All I Ask” function as the piano ballads that Adele so regularly knocks out of the park.
Lyrically, the album finds Adele wallowing in her usual sorrow due to failed romance. Most of the tracks like “Hello” and “Water under the Bridge” are what you would expect with Adele narrating a conversation or her point of view toward an ex-lover. One of the reasons why “Remedy” is one of the most interesting songs on 25 is because Adele sings passionately about her love for her three year old son, which is a new and endearing topic for her listeners. Another song that deviates from Adele’s typically broken heart is the last track “Sweetest Devotion” which is so overly positive it feels out of place and throws of the cohesion of the album. Even when the production is quite uninspired on tracks like “River Lea” and “Love in the Dark”, Adele’s voice is so enchanting that it can make a bad song seem tolerable. Adele is the only singer around today who could make those tracks compelling.
While 25 is a solid record, it also feels very safe. Adele worked with a multitude of producers and writers on this album and while it still feels like an Adele album, her tragic personal life is starting to feel calculated and almost fabricated. Adele is not the same woman who recorded 21 – she has now been settled with a partner and enjoying motherhood for three years. It would be nice if her music started to reflect that.
Ideally, 25 will be the end of “Adele the hopeless romantic” and she will challenge herself with different material or themes. Regardless, 25 is filled with some great catchy pop tunes, and Adele’s remarkably gorgeous voice.
© November 20th, 2015
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