The release of '21' came 4 long years ago and brought with it a ferocious combination of musical substance and cross-cultural appeal. It was a more polished and more focused version of her debut that saw the singer cement her place in the annals of pop culture with her fiercely emotive vocal and vintage Motown aesthetic. '21' stripped off the glossy overcoat of fame and fortune to give glimpses of a woman facing and overcoming challenges that the average person relates to. It should go without saying that ADELE’s latest offering, '25', has huge shoes to fill, but if anyone can do it surely this Londoner’s soulful melodic musings are up to the task.
Lead single ‘Hello’ properly opens the album and, as if by design, prepares the listener for the vast sonic landscape. ADELE’s vocal travels over the course of the album. Here we see the track push forward and out with breathtaking energy and easily pull back in total lockstep with ADELE’s ballad-esque pacing.
Lyrical themes that are often the punchline of jokes may serve as a deterrent for those more inclined to enjoy happy-go-lucky musical rainbows, or simply enjoy poking fun at ADELE’s perennial state of melancholy, but it is their loss. ‘Send My Love’ is standout that would rival a Taylor Swift track in its portrayal of relationships gone awry. It is one of the few higher energy tracks on the record and hint’s at a musical direction that could have made for an interesting deviation.
Not many vocals can withstand the spotlight '25' shines on the performance from ADELE. The album splices in some intimate tunes like ‘Million Years Ago’. Longing, regret, remorse, mourning are among the litany of emotions conveyed in this captivating performance and reinforces by its simplicity. This is a recurring theme through the album as evidence in ‘Remedy’ and ‘All I ask’.
At no point of '25' does ADELE’s vocal seem to be buried by the liveness of instrumentation. Conversely, ADELE never over sells lines with endless melismatic vocal runs or other needless vocal acrobatics.
This is a tutorial on how an established and accomplished talent creates a pocket to work within consistently over the course of a record. It is a refreshing show of maturity of a woman who is still learning about the person she is. 25’s dullest moments are of little consequence when taken in the album’s full context. At times '25' may appear to linger between highest of highs and falling into a pit of lassitude, but mark this down as a solid effort and successful return to greatness for one of this generation’s greatest voices nonetheless.
Listen to ADELE's 'HELLO' below!