AUDIO JUNKIE: Adele’s ‘30,’ music as therapy

Published November 20, 2021, 6:53 PM

by Punch Liwanag

The latest and much-awaited new album from Adele finds the singer taking stock after a divorce.

“It really helped me, This album,’ Adele said to Apple Music, adding “I really think that some of the songs on the album could really help people, really change people’s lives.”

And that’s because, the Grammy-winning singer herself found solace when she wrote the songs on her brand new album titled “30.” Even though, it was after the fact. There was a time that Adele intimated in her interview with Apple Music that she thought of not releasing the songs that made it on “30” because she thought they were very personal. “There were moments when I was writing these songs, and when I was mixing them and stuff like that, where I was like, ‘Maybe I don’t need to put this album out, she said. “I’m never going into the studio to be like, ‘Right, I need another hit.’ It’s not like that for me. When something is more powerful and overwhelming (to) me, I’d like to go to a studio and then write, shared Adele, adding that all the personal stuff she wrote down is basically therapy for her. “I just had to get it out of my system.”

Hence the somewhat downcast theme that some songs on “30” took. Not all of them, mind you, but definitely the opening track “Strangers By Nature” is one of them. At the onset she croons, “I’m taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart / For all of my lovers in the present and in the dark.”

The Adele and Greg Kurstin-written ballad “Easy On Me” follows where we find an apologetic Adele. “My Little Love” finds Adele singing for her son Angelo. And incorporates actual voice memo recordings into the song. The most poignant part of it is when Adele said “I love your dad because he gave you to me. You’re half-me and you’re half-daddy.”

No surprise that some of Adele’s new songs still bear a retro pop vibe. These include “Cry Your Heart Out” (written with Greg Kurstin), the jazzy “All Night Parking” wherein an Errol Garner piano was sampled. Then there’s “Love Is A Game” that puts a string section behind Adele that reminds of classic arrangements used for Sinatra, The Righteous Brothers and the like.

The minimalist approach to the arrangements is very much appreciated on songs such “Woman Like Me” wherein we hear a raw sounding acoustic guitar, a bare-bones drum kit and just the barest sounding bass to accompany Adele’s full bodied vocals. It’s also one of the few times that Adele shifts blame as she sings “Complacency is the worst trait to have / Are you crazy? / You ain’t never had, ain’t ever had a woman like me/ It’s so sad a man like you could be so lazy.’

One of the best tracks here is “To Be Loved” where it’s just Adele and a lone piano. Where she sings like she pulled her heart out of her sleeve and bare what’s inside in it, and her soul, for everyone to see and hear. Lyrically, Adele poured her feelings out for this one in particular, acknowledging her shortcomings, failing the first time she “Built a house for love to grow,” because she was “So young that it was hard to know.” But she’s not so harsh on herself because she knows she has to go through it. “I’ll never learn If I never leap / I’ll always yearn if I never speak,” she sings emphatically. If you think you’ve heard Adele sing, then you’re in for a treat as she reaches the song’s crescendo, as she intones “Let it be known / let it be known that I tried” as hits those notes in a way that only Adele can.

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