Adele's 30: What You Need To Know
Like a solar eclipse or the passing of a comet, a new album from Adele is always an event worth taking note of - and with six years having elapsed since the arrival of her third studio album 25, they're almost as rare.
But this week the wait is finally over. Announced in October alongside the relase of the album's first single 'Easy On Me', Adele's fourth full-length offering, 30, makes its way into stores this Friday (November 19). Here's everything you need to know about Adele's return...
A little background…
As is fairly well-known by now, the years leading up to 30’s release have been tumultuous ones in Adele’s personal life, splitting from her partner Simon Konecki, with whom she has a son. The fallout from that break-up fuels much of the new album, as became evident in October with the release of the new album's lead single, 'Easy On Me' - a stirring, piano-led ballad that offered the first hints of blood on the tracks.
Confirmation of the album's title and release date arrived at the same time, with the full tracklist for her fourth studio album unveiled at the beginning of November, followed by a two-hour CBS TV special Adele One Night Only and wide-ranging interview with chat show queen Oprah Winfrey.
Who’s producing it?
Greg Kurstin handles the lion’s share of the production on the new album, but there’s also input from other production heavyweights such as Max Martin, Tobias Jesso Jr. and Shellback, as well as two tracks produced by Inflo, the man behind albums by Sault, Little Simz and Michael Kiwanuka.
Any special guests?
Not unless we’re counting Errol Garner, who appears from beyond the grave via a sample featured on ‘All Night Parking’.
What does it sound like?
First of all, there are of course the towering power ballads you’d expect like ‘Easy on Me’ and the sprawling 'To Be Loved', both of which are dripping with the heart-wrenching, romantic anguish that has become her trademark. Themes of love and loss continue to abound elsewhere too, especially on tracks like the Inflo-produced 'Woman Like Me', whose acoustic guitars add shades of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters of the 1960s, as well as on the epic, Motown-influenced closer 'Love Is a Game'.
Where 30 gets really interestng though is some of the deeper cuts, where Adele is pushing at the boundaries of her usual comfort zone and experimenting a little more, such as on 'All Night Parking' and the soulful 'Oh My God', which have a little more edge and show a desire to try out new things and expand her sound palette.
Does it deliver?
Adele’s ability as a vocal performer isn’t in any doubt at this point, nor is her capacity to deliver the kind of heartbreak-drenched balladry that has seen her become one of the most successful artists of all time, but even so; on tracks like ‘Easy on Me’ there’s a new level of mastery on offer here, both in terms of of the perfectly-weighted delivery and the channelling of raw emotion.
The challenge for an artist as successful as Adele is how to balance the creative urge to try new things while still satisfying the huge audience you've already amassed. Adele walks that tightrope admirably here, and while not every experiment on 30 hits pay dirt, the album manages to avoid ever slipping into tired cliches or generic pop.
As much as anthing else, both lyrically and musically, 30 is an album on which Adele is audibly rebuilding her confidence as a person and as an artist. There's a quietly growing level of craft in the things she's already great at, but there are also hints of a future sound that offer exciting glimpses of something more upbeat next time around.
Adele's new album 30 is available in hmv stores from Friday November 19 - you can also find it here in our online store.