By Lauren Richards
Boston University Press Service
AdÃ¨le’s fourth album, “30”, arrived with a lot of fanfare and accolades, topping the charts across the world and surpassing Taylor Swift’s “Red” in hitting 500,000 pure copies to the United States in just three days.
Yet unlike the thousands of people on the internet sharing memes and excitement, I found myself indifferent. I liked Adele, but I only knew a handful of her songs.
Going into this album, I heard that she did this piece with her son in mind, explaining why she divorced her father. The weight and popularity made this review quite the task and left me with a feeling that this album would live up to the hype and cover the myriad of emotions that come with its goal, or that it would fail entirely for me. .
Considering that it was Adele and how personal and raw the question was, I figured she would hold up.
She did more than that.
Side note: My roommates blew up her old albums every day for the week leading up to “30’s” release. They approached release day, Friday November 19th, with an impatient wait and I just watched.
When the album came out, they praised it. I listened and nodded at their praise. One of them even told me that in the past Adele’s music expressed grief, but this one expressed pain, and deep pain on top of that.
Still, I was hooked at the end of the first song and I was a fan of the end of the album.
1.) Foreigners by name
This opening track is a sweet, nostalgic and tragic ode to past love. Overall this is a very reflective piece that in my opinion has a retro 40s feel until it gets stripped down at the end. The rose slowly transformed into a haunting sensation, as the lyrics revealed a struggle to reconcile past romance and present pain.
2.) Easy on me
This piece, like many to follow, is stripped down, with only a piano and a voice as instruments, but full of emotions all the same.
The lyrics are poignant, designed to seemingly explain why she left her marriage to his 9-year-old son. More than that, they implore Grace, as the title suggests, to be “gentle” to her when they reflect on her actions. At the same time, the lyrics reveal that she is struggling to come to terms with her choice and asks her son and those close to him to understand why. With the swelling of the piano, she seeks peace as she and those she loves live in the wake of her choices.
3.) My little love
While the subject matter of the old song has some leeway for interpretation, this track is addressed directly to its son for the majority of the song. This is one of the most emotionally raw and tender songs on the album, as Adele apparently acknowledges the pain she caused her son. It’s another topic of conversation, which could very well serve as a time capsule for the two of them in the future. Despite everything that is going on, with lyrics like “You know, mom doesn’t love anyone else like I love you, does she?” it is as if the mother wants her son to know that he is loved, and the only one who matters to her.
There is also a choir in this song, and their role does a solid job of emphasizing loneliness, while her child’s voice creates closeness. Perhaps the most moving part of the song isn’t the melody or the lyrics, but rather its unanswered speaking. Adele comes across as fragile and broken, but she fights for him. His words are teary and trembling and there is no answer except for the choir which gently frames him. She admits that she is fearful and small in the mammoth of loneliness that she first experiences in this way. This song is heartbreaking and beautifully raw.
4.) Cry your heart
This song is like the friend who is there to get you back on your feet after you fall. It’s picking up, wiping off the dirt and keeping moving like a song. This is not superficial optimism, but rather an encouragement to feel what she feels but to continue at her own pace. The music reflects the sound of footsteps, emphasizing this persistent theme of moving forward, strong in its choices.
5.) Oh my God
When I first heard this song, I imagined Adele in a room full of mirrors walking around and seeking an escape from herself. The lyrics reveal an internal struggle over whether his choices are selfish or not and whether or not it is okay to put oneself first. Like the previous song, the beat mirrors the footsteps, but this time they aren’t as pronounced or confident. It’s another unfolding of his journey, a part where uncertainty permeates everything.
6.) Can I get it
A guitar introduces this song and changes the mood of the album. While this is more of a pop song than anything else, this song also has lyrics that hit deeper than most pop songs, revealing a quest for true love after an injury.
7.) I drink wine
Vulnerability in all directions is introduced again. The music is stripped; it’s just Adele, a piano and the choir for the first part. Then there is a pivot in the song as it begins to gain self-confidence and acceptance and more instruments join in as if they are singing along. She recognizes that she deserves to be loved just to be herself, unconditionally. There is an organ, adding a gospel touch to this song which is both moving and encouraging.
8.) Parking overnight
From the outset, this song has a whimsical and jazzy side and invites you to dance with the swirling emotions that it introduces. This song reflects the feeling of love and its ups and downs, reflected by its choppy singing followed by long, sweet notes. It’s like catching your breath after dealing with intense emotions.
9.) Woman like me
Again, this song is stripped down. It is solemn with the three coherent components of this album: his voice, a piano and the choir. This song reveals his frustrations to the listener. She is angry, furious with her partner for his lack of effort and his will to grow. She confronts their laziness while recognizing that she deserves more, that she deserves to be valued. At the end of the song, you see her resolve to take her love and find someone else who will appreciate it rather than wasting it on someone who is indifferent to it.
Voices echo at the start of this sweet song that reminds us to keep holding on. Here, she portrays a battle with herself: the frustration with the mess of life, her flaws, her emotions, and her feelings that make her feel small. She names it but also persuades herself to be patient with herself and to keep hanging on.
11.) Be loved
This dismal melody exposes what happens when you are left alone; all the tears, heavy emotions, anxieties and insecurities that surface. She also explores the elements of love and emphasizes the sacrifices that this requires. She tries to make herself understood. I believe this song is particularly powerful, not only in the lyrics but also in the delivery. She brings this song to life and shows its wide range.
12.) Love is a game
It’s a song that eases the tension of the previous song but remains emotional. It’s like those moments after a deep scream where you find yourself thinking but also realizing that you have to keep going. Here Adele seems to come to terms with the fact that love is cruel, yet beautiful, painful, and necessary. She rejects it but eventually comes back, accepting that she can hurt herself again.
â30â is beautifully raw, painful, relatable and encouraging all at the same time.
Each song tells a separate chapter in the album’s story, which deals with pain, loss, loneliness and love. Adele addresses herself to her ex-husband, to her child, to her friends and to herself.
She shares the ups and downs she experienced on the journey surrounding her divorce, as well as the parts of herself that she has grown to recognize and appreciate. This album is deep and vulnerable and I will certainly be moved again and again.