Adele ends four-year hiatus with release of album “25”


Patricia Yadao, Artistic Editor

After taking a break for almost five years, Adele returns to the spotlight in Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall. She kicks off her shoes and greets the world as she sings the opening lines of her breakthrough single “Hello” in her new album 25, ready to introduce the new Adele.

Adele released her third album 25 on November 20 of last year and has sold over 30 million copies globally. In the last decade, 25 has been the only album to gain a diamond certification which means it has sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. in less than a two year period.

One of the reasons Adele named her albums after her age was to invite her fans on a journey with her. Each album serves as a polaroid of her life at that time because she wrote these songs at the age she named the album after: 19, 21, 25. Adele says 25 is the last of the line in her age-named trilogy.

Each new chapter of her story deserves attention. Adele’s 21 was all about channeling pain into power and pushing through a bad romance. Adele’s 25 is all about lamenting her past with songs titled “When We Were Young” and “Million Years Ago.” Adele does not change radically from album to album, but rather, strengthens the idea of how time measures gradual change for her.

“Her music is like time-lapse photography of a busy street: Small parts move, but the structure of the whole picture remains essentially intact,” music critic Jon Caramanica said in his “New York Times” review entitled “Holding Firm While Pop Shifts.”

If her last record was a break-up record, then this would be her make-up record. Here, she is making up with herself, the time she has lost and the things she has done and never done.

Remorse still remains her muse from 21 following to 25, however age 25 was a turning point in Adele’s life. It meant being at the halfway point between being in her late adolescent years and being a fully established adult. Album 25 displays Adele’s maturity in getting to know who she has become.

“Hello” is bridge between her 21 and 25, tying up loose ends in the relationship that 21 was all about. The song is also an open invitation to new fans: “Hello, it’s me/ I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.”

Adele is singing from a different place, a happier place this time around. Although she is known to be the queen of somber lyrical ballads, this album’s pop songs “Water Under the Bridge” and “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” with their upbeat rhythmic patterns paired with Adele’s spunk and sass create an intoxicating mix that proves her fluency in the language of music.

Her choice of using electronic elements, 1980’s R&B and a variety of instruments gives her album a creative palette. Adele’s voice is smooth and casually controlled when singing along with the chilling beat of pounding drums in “I Miss You,” to the soothing piano chords of “All I Ask,” to the nostalgic acoustic strings of “Million Years Ago,” and the numbing organs of “River Lea.”

In 25, Adele possesses a voice that speaks to all generations because she pulls her influences from artists coming decades before her, studying old greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. Even with the subtle hints of other artists’ influences woven to her work, her music resonates as a modern piece of her own.

“In a stunted pop economy in which her contemporaries try to sound simultaneously like each other and like what might be trending next, Adele does the opposite: she sounds like her past,” Sam Lansky said in his “Time” review entitled “Adele Is Music’s Past, Present and Future.” “On 25, as her previous releases, she cements her reputation as pop’s oldest soul with songs that are intimate and simple.”