Album review: Adele

Adele - 25 (XL Recordings)



ADELE DESCRIBED 21 as a "break-up album", but 25 as a "make-up album...making up with myself", but the fall-out from break-up still haunts many of these, often melancholy, songs of regret for what has happened, what has gone, and what can never return.

The tone is established immediately with the single and opening track, 'Hello', where over sombre, haunting piano chords, Adele muses how "time's supposed to heal ya, but I ain't done much healing". It also showcases the full range of her magnificent voice from the subdued verses to the huge chorus (she does love the showstopping chorus ), a tricky contrast, but one that is well judged here and works seamlessly.

Other highlights include 'River Lea', which boasts a superb, soulful chorus; the torch song regret of 'Million Years Ago', with Adele backed by some dextrous, acoustic guitar (suggesting jazz could be a future path ); and the surprising 'Send My Love To Your New Lover', where Adele's vocal style, and the song's rhythmic pulse, bring it very close to indie-pop - and all the better for that.

Given she did the Bond theme for Skyfall, Adele sometimes runs the risk of falling into bombast and melodrama. 'When We Were Young' and 'Remedy' suffer from this, but the worst offender is 'All I Ask'. The poignancy of the lyrics - "hold me like I'm more than just a friend" - is lost amid a very conventional, X-Factor arrangement (cue that big key change for the final chorus ) and serious over emoting.

Thankfully the bad taste of that latter track is banished by closer 'Sweetest Devotion', where the lilting verses, rolling guitar figures, more rock arrangement, and the interplay between Adele and the backing vocals, ends 25 on a soulful, uplifting, optimistic note, neatly summing up its other, quieter, theme - after regret must come acceptance, the platform where life can begin anew.



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