The success of Adele’s third studio album, 25, is guaranteed. Anything that follows in the wake of the mammoth 21 is bound to make an impact, however, even Adele has admitted she contemplated whether there was any way to really follow an album that took on such a life of its own. While she has allegedly scrapped many recordings during the creative process that has culminated in the 11 song set, she is clearly content with the final recording. The question is whether the army of fans worldwide will feel the collection is a worthwhile addition to her legacy.
Adele at 25 is a very different creature to the one she was at both 21 and 19. No longer surrounded by insecurities about her identity, her relationship status and her ambitions, she is instead in a reflective, contemplative secure place. Happily partnered up and a mother to her first born boy, 25, while it has echoes of Adele’s earlier work, has an underlying happiness that is infectious from the very first listen.
25 opens with the now celebrated Hello, which bridges the gap neatly between the melancholic tone of 21 and the optimistic outlook of 25. Hello builds into the explosive Send My Love (To Your New Lover), which would not feel out of place on the latest offering from Taylor Swift. A nod to her signature single Someone Like You, this is a feistier Adele who has had the closure she so desperately sought.
The mammoth military drive of I Miss You has echoes of Rihanna, but feels distinctly Adele simultaneously. A truly explosive composition, this is 25’s first show-stopping moment and leading the album’s finest cut – the blissful beauty When We Were Young. A monumental pop moment, this is 25’s Someone Like You moment, the one that you hope to all goodness that you will one day be able to witness live.
On the heartwarming Remedy, Adele shows her undivided love and support for her husband. A moving ode, Adele sounds her most determined on the song that has all signature elements of co-writer Ryan Tedder. A sure choice for a future single is the anthemic Water Under The Bridge, which will has all the feel food elements that a song about closure requires.
It is the Danger Mouse collaboration River Lea which lyrically best summarises Adele at 25. In a reflective mood, Adele is contemplating all the changes she has undergone. She is a world away from who she was once, but in herself she feels the same as she always has done. While time moves on, friendships change and ambitions alter, we are at the core never-changing. River Lea is an apology for all the mistakes we might make, but never realise. A powerful moment, it offers 25’s third show-stopper.
Stating that she is ‘being cruel to be kind’ on Love In The Dark, Adele returns to the subject of 21. Fully closing one chapter of her life so that can move on, the song is strangely placed in the tracklisting, but the sentiment is strong and one that can come to anyone at any time in the aftermath of a past relationship.
Inevitably and rather wonderfully arriving at a point of total internal reflection, Million Years Ago harks back to a sound that is more synonymous with her debut 19. Writing about how childhood dreams have been realised and disappeared subsequently, Million Years Ago is tender, truthful and relateable by everyone who misses those more innocent years.
Building to its close, All I Ask centres on the honest simplicity of internal woes. The stunning piano backing highlights the depth of Adele’s emotional delivery and leaves you with tingles. However, it is on the ode to her first born, Sweetest Devotion, that we see Adele at her happiest. As she chirps, ‘there is something in your loving that tears down my wall’, Adele is void of any of the insecurities that have made her work so fragile and moving. Yet this is Adele at her most moving. The happiness is contagious and as you sway and sing along at the top of your lungs, you can’t help but share in her joy.
25 is not 21. It could never be. 25 is 25. A more secure, reflective but equally honest collection of songs that will steal your heart time and again.