Adele album review: Her voice has a hotline to our hearts

Adele’s voice has a hotline to our heartsbut while her lyrics have a scorching candour, those writing the melodies struggle to keep up

阿黛尔 30 现在出来

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The last time Adele released an album, the Obamas were in the 白色的房子, 大卫·卡梅伦(David Cameron) was Prime Minister, pandemics happened only in disaster movies and Adele was still living with the father of her son.

That was six years ago yesterday. Her albums are required, as if by law, to land a month before 圣诞.

For the music business, Adele is a one-woman Black Friday. For other superstars, her release date is a reason to change theirs.

Since releasing 25, 阿黛尔 (以上) has got married, left her husband and fallen in love again. You’ll never guess which of these experiences dominates the proceedings

Since releasing 25, 阿黛尔 (以上) has got married, left her husband and fallen in love again. You’ll never guess which of these experiences dominates the proceedings

The first clue that 30 would arrive now came when Taylor Swift shunted the rerecorded Red forward to last week. Make way for the queen!

As a working-class woman from Tottenham with a fondness for four-letter words, Adele is not your average royal. But look at who has just interviewed her – Oprah Winfrey, in the same California garden where she quizzed Harry and Meghan.

And look at how people respond to Adele’s ups and downs. We feel what she’s feeling, in a way that hasn’t happened with anybody since Princess Diana.

This bond didn’t come about because Adele was famous or glamorous, though she is both those things now. It came about because she was relatable.

We see that now on the telly, but it all started with her singing. Her voice has a hotline to our hearts: no other current singer is better at expressing emotion.

在 30 she has a lot to be emotional about.

Since releasing 25, Adele has got married, left her husband and fallen in love again. You’ll never guess which of these experiences dominates the proceedings. 是, it’s a break-up album, like her masterpiece, 21.

But not much of it is addressed to her ex, Simon Konecki: mostly Adele seems to be singing to herself.

Since releasing 25, 阿黛尔 (以上) has got married, left her husband and fallen in love again. You’ll never guess which of these experiences dominates the proceedings

Since releasing 25, 阿黛尔 (以上) has got married, left her husband and fallen in love again. You’ll never guess which of these experiences dominates the proceedings

‘This album is self-destruction,’ she told Vogue, ‘then self-reflection and then sort of self-redemption.’ The self-destruction, 如你所料, isn’t much fun.

‘I’ll be taking flowers,’ she announces, ‘to the cemetery of my heart’ – and that is the very first line, the queen’s gambit. It’s a hell of a statement, but the song it introduces, a swirl of strings called Strangers By Nature, is nothing special.

Sad songs have to be more than misery memoirs. For half an hour here Adele’s lyrics have a scorching candour, and the middle-aged men writing the melodies – mainly Greg Kurstin, in one case Max Martin – struggle to keep up.

On two tracks she includes voice recordings as evidence of her distress, like affidavits. On one, My Little Love, we hear her son Angelo talking to her. It makes powerful raw material, but raw it remains.

Refreshing as it is when music is conversational, actual conversation isn’t music.

At the halfway stage, the highlight is the single Easy On Me, which is good but not great, and the album risks falling flat. Things begin to look up with I Drink Wine, a crisp piano ballad on which Kurstin finds his inner McCartney.

Then comes the bullseye: Hold On, a gospel ballad co-written by the young London producer Inflo. It goes all the way from despair (‘I truly hate being me’) to defiance (‘You are still strong’), and the chords match the fire in her voice.

It’s Adele’s best song since Someone Like You.

The next track, Tobias Jesso Jr’s To Be Loved, is almost as forceful. 所以 30 ends up, in a mathematical twist, midway between 25 和 21.

Adele’s live comeback, in Hyde Park next summer, should be magnificent.

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