I did not think I was going to write about Adele’s new album, 30. No one needs me to tell them that Adele has a new album out. If you’re into Adele you certainly know it. If you’re not into Adele you also almost certainly know it. I also didn’t really think I was going to have anything interesting to say about it based on the first single, “Take It Easy”. It’s a very stereotypical Adele song. It’s Adele doing what Adele has done up until now. She’s very good at it, but I personally had grown bored of it. I have already taken to changing the channel on the radio while I’m driving every time that song comes on. Though it is so ubiquitous on the radio right now that sometimes I just flip around from channel to channel and it’s the only song playing. I did want to listen to the whole album though, and it surprised me. I get why they chose to make the first single the one that sounds like everything that has come before, but this album is not that. There is a lot more going on sonically in this album than I would have guessed.
It starts off with the song “Strangers by Nature”, which sounds like it could have been plucked out of an old school Disney animated film with its strings, twinkly bells, and the lilt of Adele’s voice while she’s singing it. It has a lot influences from gospel, old school R&B, and also some more modern pop influences. She also throws back to some of her earlier music from 19 on the song “All Night Parking”. At first I was thinking that it had a little bit of Erykah Badu sound to it and then I was like it sounds like someone else too. Who is it. Then I was like duh, it sounds like Adele on “Chasing Pavements”. Go figure. She has definitely expanded her sound on this album, and I’m digging the results.
I think it strays less from some of her earlier sounds than other songs, but I’m going to highlight the song “Hold On” because it’s the one that was speaking to me lyrically this morning. I also like the way music starts off spare as she’s singing about feeling beat down but continues to build as she more strongly encourages herself to hold on for brighter days as the song goes on. It conveys that feeling of having to will yourself to keep moving forward until you eventual feel like you really can. She’s obviously singing about her feelings after her divorce and hoping for love, but for me right now it was speaking to my feelings about feeling defeated and trapped in this pandemic because while everyone else has decided it’s fine to move on either because they’re vaccinated or they’re not vaccinated and they don’t believe it’s real my immunocompromised self is still living in isolation.
I’m sure many of you are already listening to the Adele album or plan to, but if you like me were starting to right her off a little bit I encourage you to go take a listen. It might surprise you too.