Review: ‘30’

Adele takes listeners on emotional rollercoaster in her long-awaited album


Adele One Night Only, CBS

On Nov. 14, Adele performed a television special to celebrate the release of her fourth studio album, 30.

Gavin Block, Reporter

After a six-year absence, the outstanding, soulful and virtuosic English vocalist has returned to charm our ears once again. 

Adele, with 15 Grammy Awards and having reached five No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, had stolen the show for the former half of the last decade. The mighty voice—along with widespread acclaim and a strong relationship with her fans—has made Adele one of the most popular musicians in the world.

30, in line with her previous albums 19 (2008), 21 (2011), and 25 (2015), reflects the age Adele was when she wrote it. This concept puts more focus on the life experiences and conditions she was in during the construction of each record rather than when they were released.

Adele has said that her divorce in 2021 with then-husband Simon Konecki largely influenced the themes of the album.

Recordings for 30 began around 2018 and ended earlier this year. It was originally set to release in September 2020, but production of the record was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The singer finally announced on Oct. 13 that the fourth studio album was scheduled to release on Friday, Nov. 19.

The two-hour CBS-exclusive Adele One Night Only aired on Sunday, Nov. 14 and was shot at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory. The concert’s setlist consisted of quintessential numbers such as “Make You Feel My Love” and “Rolling in the Deep,” along with four songs from her newest LP, which included the lead single “Easy on Me.” The event went on to garner an audience of over 10 million viewers.

In merely the first week that it had the pre-save option, 30 broke the record for the most pre-added album of all time on Apple Music.

The single “Easy on Me” shot up to the top of global charts and has reigned in the position for an imposing four weeks. The song has obtained the most streams in a single day on both Spotify and Amazon Music.

A variety of producers helped contribute to the development of Adele’s new album, including 25 collaborators Greg Kurstin and the ubiquitous Max Martin.

Piano-driven songs like “I Drink Wine,” “Easy on Me” and “To Be Loved” evoke feelings of pensiveness and solemnity but also bring out the majesty of Adele’s incredible vocal prowess.

Cry Your Heart Out” concerns dissatisfaction with one’s circumstances and the hopelessness brought on by it, all disguised with an upbeat pop-reggae tune.

The folksy “Can I Get It” incorporates acoustic guitar and strong backing vocals. It lyrically deals with the anticipation of being liberated by love, presented with a bold and airy tone from Adele.

The nocturne-like interlude “All Night Parking” samples late American jazz pianist Erroll Garner and integrates elements of lo-fi music. Adele’s soft and deep vocal performance fits very well here and adds to the soothing atmosphere of the song.

The cinematic instrumentation and optimistic lyrics in “Hold On” create an impactful message of how even though things may seem rough when going through a struggle, one will find the strength to push through and eventually encounter the beautiful things that life has to offer. Adele’s voice combined with the strings, choir, and percussion all complement each other to create a whimsical symphony and exude true hope in musical form.

The final track, “Love Is a Game,” is a ballad seemingly inspired by bossa nova with its string accompaniment providing a unique chord progression and soaring vocals from Adele. Its lyrics speak of how love can be confusing and even frustrating at times. The song is able to sweep the listener off their feet into an enchanting and divine vortex of sound, all delivered by Adele’s voice and the variety of instruments backing her.

Overall, 30 is a monumental piece of work that showcases Adele’s musical versatility and continually magisterial presentation in her singing. The album explores subjects such as heartbreak, sorrow, fear, and hope, with the songs being mainly presented in a romantic yet melancholic manner. Both the eloquent, reflective lyrics and wonderfully intriguing harmonies come together to make this another truly great album by Adele.