Adele "25"

Adele is the ubiquitous agent that connects everyone, everywhere. Okay, maybe that’s going overboard, but only a bit. Ms. Adkins is the biggest singing star in the world thanks to her universal appeal. Yet this phenomenon who bridges cultures and generations considered retiring following the success of her hugely successful sophomore album. Fortunately for her legions of fans she leapt the hurdle of writers block, and the pressures of living up to expectation, to deliver a third album of pristine pop magic.

I won’t spend much time on Adele’s voice. I assume you know the smoky richness of her timbre, the elucidation of every syllable, the pitch perfect tone, and her deft phrasing. Instead, let’s focus on her songwriting. Adele never over-complicates her material. She cuts to the heart of the matter, and the matter is always the heart. Culling from personal experience 25, like her earlier releases, is a reflection of the singer life. Whereas 19 was a young woman’s entrance into adulthood, and 21 was a break-up album, 25 is Adele’s “make-up” record. Her themes include motherhood, redemptive love, learning to forgive past lovers, and a sense of passing time. I admit it’s strange to hear a woman in her late twenties wax nostalgic about her lost youth, but perhaps that acknowledges an emerging maturity.

As for collaborators, Adele has compiled an impressive list of co-writers and producers – more than a dozen accomplished talents work with her. She re-teams with Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder, who helped create the success of 21. Danger Mouse, Mark Ronson, and Linda Perry bring new elements to the music including more R&B elements. The Smeezingtons, a songwriting team that includes Bruno Mars contribute “All I Ask,” one of the album’s more intimate albums.  But the real standout match is Greg Kurstin who co-writes three songs including the amazing first single “Hello.” Let’s hope she works with him again, and let’s hope it’s a very long time before Adele considers retiring. I look forward to hearing her musical diaries for decades to come.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon