30 going on 100
24 November 2021-
It's hard to believe that 6 years had gone by since Adele last graced us with an LP. All is forgotten, though: 30 is here, and let's just say the magic is still very much there...
We at Sondz are old enough to remember the 20-year old fresh-faced, cleared-voiced, British blue-eyed soul singer who was singing “Chasing Pavements” and already turning heads. You could see right then and there that she was not merely another Amy Winehouse or Lily Allen, but had something about her, her voice, the personality that transpired in her lyrics that was quite simply different. Obviously, the album that followed and its juggernaut single “Someone Like You” made the whole world aware of that difference. The rest is history, and it is still being written…
After a rather eventful decade that had Adele release two of the best selling albums of all time, get married, have a kid, face vocal-cord issues, get divorced, all of which very much happened in the public eye because it’s hard to hide away from the world when everyone is literally listening to your work, said world was anxious to hear what the lady had to say/sing about in this day and age. Then again, because Miss Adkins tends to remain silent in-between projects, because of the aforementioned vocal-cord problems that had her shy away from the stage — and because of the covid situation we all know about, no one had heard from her in years…
Last month, the release of “Easy On Me”, her first new material in 6 years and a song aptly dedicated to her recent divorce — why beat around the bush? — had her storm back onto the scene. To date, the video has raked in 175 million views on Youtube, while the tracks tops 300 million streams on Spotify. It was also number #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Global 200 for weeks, only getting dethroned by a certain Taylor Swift last week. She is one of the few who has to the right to do that. Released last week, the full album, 30, was immediately taken on by fans, music critics and casual listeners alike. After all, everyone listens to Adele.
And they were not disappointed. Over the years and as she grew older and more experienced as an artist, it feels like Adele only got better at her craft. Unfazed by the fact that she’d created an era-defining track at the tender age of 22, she kept on working, evolving, refining. Not since the jump between debut album 19 and sophomore 21 has it been more obvious: Adele circa 2021 is a remarkably sophisticated artist and performer. What had always been in the stars is now resolutely in plain sight: the young lady’s ability to play with the sheer power of her voice and convey a wide range of emotions, all the while projecting class and grace, makes her perhaps the defining diva of this new century of ours.
And by ‘diva’, we mean the real ones: the Arethas, the Whitneys, the Ellas… in short, those whose artistic brilliance was such that they pushed down walls, galvanised crowds, reinvented music as they went on. Adele is that for the 21st century, although she interestingly is not American, let alone African-American, unlike the names listed above. No matter: songs like “I Drink Wine”, the beautiful Erroll Garner-infused “All Night Parking” or the intimate “To Be Loved” have the singer reach a somewhat ageless musical quality, as if she was no longer part of musical trends, news or even genres.
Album closer “Love Is A Game” is perhaps the finest example of this new, even greater iteration: an almost 7-minute long soaring, 60’s soul horn-infused piece with impeccable back vocals and an operatic feel we once got from the Supremes and their Motown colleagues has the Londoner transcend her very origins to become the voice of her generation. At least a voice of a generation.