Adele’s “30” delivers innovative sound, emotional depth


Photo via Adele

Adele’s fourth studio album, “30,” was released Nov. 19.

After a six-year hiatus, British singer-songwriter Adele has returned with “30.” From divorce to weight loss, it’s undeniable that the singer’s life has changed since her last album release, but a common thread remains: no one does emotional like Adele.

Adele has been a part of my life in the way only musicians can be for over a decade. She fell into the narrow sector of modern music my parents tolerated, so my mom would often play “21” when I was riding in her car. 

I grew invested in this album upon reading Vogue’s cover story on Adele. The ideas of change and resilience were incisive throughout the story, so I was eager to see what themes came up in this album. I had higher hopes for the emotional depth of the songs than for an innovative sound. Somehow, Adele delivers both.

The 12-track album begins with “Strangers By Nature,” a slow-tempo, lullaby-esque song. It has a distinctly old-fashioned, wistful feel. I loved how cinematic this song was as it immediately immersed me in the album.

“My Little Love” is a six minute ode to motherhood where Adele sings about “holding on” and “having a lot to learn.” Melodically, this third track is lush, and it is interspersed with voice recordings of Adele talking to her son, Angelo. As a girl already excited for motherhood, I found adorable moments such as Angelo telling his “mummy,” “I love you a million percent” almost too much for my heart to take. But upon closer listen, this song is lingering and depressive as Adele worries about explaining her divorce to her son. Enhanced with gentle vocalizations, this one is definitely my favorite.

After making me both happy and sad in “My Little Love,” Adele delivers “Cry Your Heart Out,” a jaunty little tune, as the fourth track. In it, Adele instructs the listener – “Cry your heart out/It’ll clean your face,” making this my new post-cry song. I can already see myself dancing and singing to this one in the future.

Before “30” came out, I heard the seventh track, “I Drink Wine,” while watching Oprah’s “Adele One Night Only” with my mom. This song is a classic piano ballad and offers something a little more upbeat and hopeful. When I saw the track list, I assumed “I Drink Wine” would be a flippant song for wine moms. In actuality, I found the song touching coming from a big star. Adele sings “Everybody wants something, you just want me” and “So I hope I learn to get over myself/Stop trying to be somebody else.” I appreciated how grounding these lyrics were, offering something for us all to aspire to.  

The album ends with “Love Is A Game,” which feels like a return to the beginning as it is initially wistful with a slow-tempo. The pace gradually picks up, as do the instrumentals and background singers, ending off on a peppy note.

I recommend this album to everybody and anybody. With musical range and emotional depth, “30” is an album to cry to, an album to smile to and, of course, an album to sing to.