- 29 Nov 21
“It’s a searingly honest portrait of a woman and mother painted in shades of pop, R&B, hip-hop and soul.”
Over the course of 14 years and three landmark albums, Adele has scaled rare artistic heights – but 30 represents a new peak in one of the most remarkable careers in modern music.
Following her tradition of naming her albums after the age when most of the tracks were written, 30 details the break-up of the Londoner’s marriage to entrepreneur Simon Konecki, while also finding her grappling with the decision to end that relationship. It’s a searingly honest portrait of a woman, and mother, painted in shades of pop, R&B, hip-hop and soul.
Indeed, not a single number on 30 disappoints. Opener ‘Strangers By Nature’ commences with the melodramatic lines, “I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart/ For all of my lovers in the present and in the dark.” Meanwhile, the lush orchestration – co-produced by Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson – lends the track a cinematic slant. Based around a simple piano arrangement, lead single ‘Easy On Me’ foregrounds Adele’s magnificent vocals, as she seeks forgiveness for putting her happiness first.
The most heart-wrenching moment is neo-soul effort ‘My Little Love’, which is addressed to – and interspersed with recordings of conversations with – her son Angelo. Tucked in at the end is a devastatingly raw voicemail from Adele, detailing how she’s hit rock-bottom.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. ‘Cry Your Heart Out’ is a feel-good, reggae-flavoured tune, with echoes of fellow London songstress Amy Winehouse. ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Can I Get It’, meanwhile, are exquisitely crafted pop gems, and ballad ‘I Drink Wine’ recalls Elton John at his most epic.
‘Woman Like Me’ articulates the depths of the singer’s disappointment with her ex, as she criticises him for undervaluing her and squandering the potential of their relationship. ‘Hold On’ reintroduces a little love and joy, featuring as it does a choir made up of Adele’s own friends, singing, “Just hold on.” Finally, there is ‘Love Is A Game’, which – though it boasts a wonderful gospel tone – has a real bite to its central message: love sucks.
A three-act tale covering every possible emotion one can feel as a relationship ends, 30 might just be the greatest break-up album of all time. It’s a searingly honest account of personal pain – and an artistic triumph.
Listen: ‘My Little Love’
30 is out now via Columbia Records