Adele
30


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (189 Reviews)
November 22nd, 2021 | 32 replies


Release Date: 11/19/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Welcome back, Adele; it’s nice to hear your voice again.

30 is Adele’s fourth album. Really let that sink in for a second. For an artist who’s sold over 120 million records and become such a household name in popular music, it’s astounding how small her discography actually is. But that just speaks to the significance of an album like 21, a release that broke countless sales records and even changed the direction of the entire music industry. Personally, I like to see it as the proper conclusion of the album era, as well as one of the last times that an album release was seen as a true “event” a la Avengers: Endgame. So at this point, Adele really has nothing to prove anymore. Even 25, which was a vastly inferior followup, was almost equally successful and became her second consecutive diamond-certified record in the states.

And yet, a lot has happened since that album, right? Adele went through another marriage and divorce, became a stay-at-home mother, lost 100 pounds, and was even ordained as a minister to officiate the wedding of one of her close friends. As we’ve observed from past records, her music is nothing if not inspired by her innermost struggles and triumphs; 21 took us through every stage of the breakup she was going through back then, and 25 was largely about motherhood and how the passage of time has changed her. But one thing I’ve always respected about Adele is that she doesn’t release an album until she’s truly ready to do so. We’re not talking about someone like Rihanna, who used to put out a record every year - all of wildly varying degrees of quality. 30 was six years in the making, and - once again - is inspired by everything in her personal life that happened in that timeframe.

However, the way 30 begins is actually somewhat of a departure from previous Adele albums. Instead of the intense anger and scorn that marked “Rolling in the Deep” from 21 or the melodramatic balladry that defined “Hello” from 25, we start with a lushly orchestrated intro that wastes no time in revealing its hand lyrically to the listener. The first line of “Strangers by Nature” is pretty telling in regards to her divorce: “I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart”. This is the first time we’ve had an Adele record with a proper intro track, and the increased jazz influence makes the tune even more enjoyable. In fact, the jazz elements pop back up a lot on this album! Obviously Adele has used jazz chords a lot in her previous work because of her soul and R&B background, but she explores that facet of her music even more on 30. “I Drink Wine”, for instance, benefits from the combination of elegant piano work and the sultry light swing of the drums underneath; meanwhile, album highlight “Cry Your Heart Out” uses beautifully rich vocal harmonies that sound as though they came right out of a 50s rhythm and blues record.

What makes 30 so enjoyable, though, is that Adele sounds so much more happy and content this time around. Despite the dark times she went through before its release, she’s never sounded more reassured and confident than she does here. For every low-key ballad, there’s a delightful midtempo or uptempo R&B number to balance it out. Highlights in this category include the aforementioned “Cry Your Heart Out”, the stomping percussion and vocal acrobatics of “Oh My God”, and the intricate string arrangements of midtempo closer “Love is a Game”. Also notable is the fact that Adele’s voice is even better than on previous albums; not only is her belting ability stronger than ever, but she performs much more challenging runs and jazz-tinged harmonies as well. Her work on 30 really helps expand the and flesh out the songwriting of the record; this is particularly true of the longer tracks such as “To Be Loved” and “Love is a Game”, which both benefit from how many vocal techniques she can fit into a single song. The latter is definitely the best example of such, as the entire track is one big symphonically-charged buildup. Once that payoff comes at the end - both instrumentally and vocally - it’s truly wonderful.

If there’s anything that drags 30 down just a bit, it would be the length. The record is significantly longer than any of its predecessors - roughly an hour long - and a few songs could certainly have been shaved off the tracklist to remedy this. “All Night Parking”, for instance, is a pretty bland and forgettable midtempo number that sports an incredibly basic drum beat and directionless songwriting - something that even the presence of legendary jazz pianist Erroll Garner can't mask. Still, there aren’t really any outright duds on the album either; some of them simply might have been better off as b-sides instead of album tracks. Regardless, 30 is an excellent return to form after the disappointment of 25. A lot of the fire and intensity Adele had on 21 is back in full force, but it’s also tempered and measured with a more reflective tone. It’s as if Adele took all the best parts of 25 and combined them with elements of 21 and 19, resulting in a musical highlight reel of sorts. In any case, she should be proud of 30. It’s a clear sign that she’s back and better than ever, even surpassing much of what she did on 21. Welcome back, Adele; it’s nice to hear your voice again.



Recent reviews by this author
Flight Facilities ForeverTori Amos Ocean to Ocean
Masashi Hamauzu Final Fantasy XIII: Original SoundtrackEvery Time I Die Last Night in Town
Dream Theater A View From The Top Of The WorldSteely Dan Everything Must Go
user ratings (99)
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Robert Garland STAFF (3.7)
30. So much more than 25....

Brandon Taylor (3.5)
"Let it be known, let it be known that I tried"...

ghostalgeist (4)
I created this storm, it's only fair I have to sit in its rain....

related reviews

19

21

25


Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another year, another username change.



Anyway, I'm really digging this album. SO much better than 25!

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


15680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Glad to see this getting some coverage. Haven't read this yet for obvious reasons, but consider this a tactical comment for when my writing's clear.

Digging: Obscura - A Valediction

Slex
November 22nd 2021


12616 Comments


Was wondering if this was a legit rebound after 25 sucked so bad, I'm sold, will listen soon

Digging: Mol - Diorama

Get Low
November 22nd 2021


11380 Comments


Just bought this CD for my mum at FYE on Friday; her first CD in like fifteen years. She listened and told me it was great, and I'm inclined to believe her. May listen soon.

Slex
November 22nd 2021


12616 Comments


Damn I wish there was still FYEs around here, miss that place

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Same, FYE is great. Haven't been to one since I lived in California back in 2016, since Norfolk really didn't seem to have a lot of record stores in general

Get Low
November 22nd 2021


11380 Comments


The one near me almost went out of business, but then they pulled the store out of liquidation a week before they were scheduled to close. I'm glad they're still around, but the popularity of the store has definitely waned over the years.

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm just glad that I've found a lot of good music stores out in Japan so I can continue my collection once again. I used to be obsessed with record collecting when I was younger, so it's nice to finally pick that hobby up again

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


15680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

--But that just speaks to the significance of an album like 21, a release that broke countless sales records and even changed the direction of the entire music industry. Personally, I like to see it as the proper conclusion of the album era, as well as one of the last times that an album release was seen as a true “event” a la Avengers: Endgame.--



Consider me out of the loop, but what does this specifically refer to?

Colton
November 22nd 2021


13230 Comments


Avengers: Endgame

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Gnocchi: I could have worded it better, but I was basically saying that despite the fact that Adele only has 4 albums, the cultural significance and sales of 21 (and 25 for that matter) make up for her general lack of output

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


15680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Yeah okay, sort of picking up what you're saying, but is that too vague, or even narrow-minded considering bands can have smaller discogs/output and still have a comparable impact or is it a pop/mainstream thing? i.e. T-Swifts discog vs. adele (loose eg/query)

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I get where you're coming from. I'll try and reword (or at least tweak) the intro paragraph at some point :]





Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


15680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

All good. Could just be me not getting things as usual. : ]

ghostalgeist
November 22nd 2021


622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i personally think the first two paragraphs are pretty damn good

also wow strangers by nature, i drink wine, and cry your heart out are spectacular

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


15680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

That closer though.

ghostalgeist
November 22nd 2021


622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

like i think i had basically no problems with this record beyond the length, although it is a central problem that defines the back end of this thing - some songs would have benefitted from being cut down

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I remember one of my friends joking that Adele was becoming a prog artist because of the song lengths near the end of the album :D

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2021


15680 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Still waiting for that twenty minute epic

brandontaylor
November 22nd 2021


1110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

man I wish Rihanna still released an album a year, the wait for her follow-up is excruciating.

agree with the main criticism for this being the length (for me its mainly the song lengths, of all the 5+ min tracks only 'To Be Loved' earns its entire duration)



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy