Snippets of Adele’s ’25’ leaked, removed days ahead of release

19 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Adele channeled ‘early-life crisis’ into new album, ‘25’.

The 27-year-old singer-songwriter is responding to a suggestion that the material on her hotly anticipated new album, 25 — titled, like her two previous albums, for her age when she began working on it — seems “heavier.” There are songs that allude to lost or fading youth, betraying her still tender years. “It’s definitely heavier, I agree,” Adele admits, after a self-deprecating laugh — her trademark melodic cackle. “I’m sort of in that weird limbo state where you’re deciding, what is the next chapter of my life?

Her third album, which comes four years after 21, is guaranteed to be a huge hit regardless of what critics might say – it’s expected to sell 2 million copies in its first week on sale in America. More aligned musically to Someone Like You or Hometown Glory than Rolling in the Deep or Set Fire to the Rain, the stark ballad features layered backing vocals on the second chorus while a drumbeat doesn’t kick in until the last minute of the song. The dramatic first single, “Hello,” topped 100 million YouTube views in five days and the second, even better song, “When We Were Young,” is fast bringing up the rear. Highlights include Hello, Remedy, When Were Young and Love in the Dark although some critics note that it isn’t as cohesive as her previous efforts 19 and 21. After a three-year absence, the BRIT school graduate sang a tentative “Hello, it’s me” on her comeback single and clocked up a million digital sales and a billion video hits in a week.

Both tracks reflect — surprisingly, for an artist who is only 27 — an autumnal, reflective mood that runs through an album that easily meets the great expectations that have preceded it. Unlike Michael Jackson, who spent his career chasing the success of Thriller, Adele has avoided the temptation to make a “grand statement” with her follow-up. Adele, who had vocal surgery in 2012, is in better voice than ever, with her huge, yearning wail and alto-to-soprano range billowing like a force of nature.

It’s a highly polished set of songs, mixing big, bold production with stripped back moments, but at the centre of it all is THAT voice, which has never sounded better. She returns again and again to hooky, short phrases that fall like a sigh (“everything that I love,” “I can’t love you in the dark”) and reinforce the dolorous vibe. It leaves things sounding a little too much like they had been designed by committee – which, on reflection, is probably exactly what those industry types were so eagerly awaiting.

The rest of us are just hoping for another great album full of heartfelt songs delivered with a warm, powerful voice that makes us want to sing along, punch the air and shed a tear. Inspired by Martin’s work on Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble, he’s likewise kept Adele’s DNA on this while adding a sly modern but minimal funk/reggae feel. Adele insists she is not expecting the new album, due Friday, to surpass the commercial performance of its predecessor, 2011’s 21, the best-selling album of both 2011 and 2012. “I don’t think I’ll ever have more success with an album than I did with 21. The production — by a variety of hitmakers including Max Martin, Danger Mouse, Greg Kurstin and “21” producer Paul Epworth — gently ushers Adele out of retro soul and into the world of modern pop without losing sight of acoustic virtues. That puts “25” squarely in Taylor Swift territory — great storytelling, smart production, judiciously big dramas — plus a dose of secret soul all her own. “Remedy,” a paean to motherhood written for her three-year-old son, is likely to become a new-parent anthem; the nostalgic look back at childhood, “River Lea,” will be relatable to pretty much anyone, as will the island-flavored kiss-off “Send My Love (to Your New Love).” A surprise outlier is “Million Years Ago,” an intimate, Edith Piaf-meets-“Nature Boy” meditation on the passage of time, with simple acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Adele traces her new sense of maturity, and wistfulness, directly to becoming a mother: Her son, Angelo, turned three in October. “I was blown away by how much having a kid can change your life. It’s more infectiously upbeat than one might expect – though, given that she worked with Bruno Mars, it makes perfect sense – but this is Adele, so it’s a pop gift that’s wrapped in heart-breaking nostalgia. Lyrically it’s a break up minus the bitterness — asking that Mr 21 treats his next lady better. “I’ve forgiven it all, you’ve set me free,” she sings. The highlight has to be River Lea, a blast of North London gospel that improbably locates the source of Adele’s musical soul in the waters of Chingford, Walthamstow and Tottenham. “When I was a child I grew up by the River Lea / There was something in the water and now that something’s in me.” Now 27, and a mother of one in a settled relationship, the album looks back a couple of years to a more transitional phase (hence the title). It is a collection of torch songs, filled with longing for lost love and mourning her own faded innocence, filtered through more emotional distance than the raw, hurting ballads and blues of 21.

Musically, she stands squarely in the middle of the road, and it is only her earthy personality and soulful honesty that lends her any kind of cutting edge. You can detect nods to Lionel Richie, Phil Collins, Carole King, Burt Bacharach and even the chanson of Charles Aznavour, with a hint of Enya’s Orinoco Flow in the rhythm and melody of Sweetest Devotion. She gives herself space, words falling neatly with music and rhythm, albeit she has the advantage of being able to stretch vowels and add syllables apparently at will. “It’s so co-oo-oo- old out here-ee-eer in your weel-de-er-ne-ess” looks ridiculous in print but sounds like the truth when Adele puts her heart into it. It’s a curious mix, with a little bit of country thrown in there but also echo-y rock that Epworth specialises in. “You will only be eternally the one I belong to,” Adele sings before wailing the chorus like few others can.

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