For thirteen years, Adele has belted lyrics about relationships, nostalgia, and of course, heartbreak.
Always accompanied by gentle piano orchestration, songs from her break-out debut 19, heartbreak album 21 and make-up record 25, could invariably be confused.
The words “Adele Atkins” and “piano ballads” became synonymous, with these devastating serenades earning her millions and granting her listeners a remedy to all relationships.
But, after six years out of the game, the English singer-songwriter has returned with her most ambitious record yet.
30, an ode to divorce, raising a child, and finding oneself, is chocked full of naked, raw lyrics that show us a side to Adele that has not yet been revealed.
Beginning with the line: “I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart / For all my lovers in the present and in the dark”, and featuring further poetry such as “All I do is bleed into someone else / Painting walls with my secret tears / Filling rooms with my hopes and fears”, this album shows off Adele’s devastating lyrical expertise.
With deep insights into her marriage, and divorce, from her partner of eleven years Simon Konecki (which she described as her best decision) this album is her most introspective yet.
As Zane Lowe summarises in The ‘30’ Interview for Apple Music, 19 was about ‘you’, 21 was about ‘her’, 25 was about ‘us’ and 30 is about ‘me’.
The album, and especially the song A Little Love, also grant an inside look into Adele’s relationship with her 9-year-old son Angelo, whom she has always kept incredibly private.
Hold On, Love is a Game and To Be Loved are credited for helping Adele to heal from her divorce through music.
And with lyrics such as “I swear I’m dead in the eyes”, “Everyday feels like the road I’m on might just open up and swallow me whole”, “How do I feel so mighty small when I’m struggling to feel at all?” the album is by far her most candid about mental health.
As an album released after pandemic-plagued years of dire mental health, in a new environment of openness surrounding the issue, 2021 has welcomed 30 with open arms.
And beyond a new lyrical take, and of course her timeless musical compositions, a new vocal style has materialised.
As well as her 2011 vocal cord microsurgery in her early 20s, after which her voice emerged smoother, Adele has also worked hard to recover after her vocal cords were damaged during her 25 World Tour in 2017.
In 30, the fruits of her work can truly be seen, as a deeper, more nuanced vocalisation is evident in much of the body of work.
And whilst Easy on Me, the album’s chart-topping single which has already broken Spotify streaming records, would have been right at home on 21’s tracklist, opener Strangers By Nature, and diss song Woman Like Me represent a completely new direction for the Hello hit-maker.
Eighth track and interlude All Night Parking also represents Adele’s first collaboration on a standard album, as the song features a posthumous credit to legendary jazz artist Erroll Garner.
30 has already topped charts worldwide, selling the equivalent of 839,000 sales in the US, with Easy On Me streaming almost 380 million times at the time of writing.
Whilst Adele’s fourth studio album is arguably not as iconic as 21, and definitely not a defining comeback record like 25, but it does completely set itself apart as a new avenue in her career.
With honest lyricism, impressive instrumentation and vocal mastery, Adele has undoubtedly nailed it again with 30.
Listen to 30 by Adele on Spotify.