Review: Adele’s 30 album has all the ‘big feelings’

“Mama has been having a lot of big feelings recently,” she says in a conversation with her nine-year-old son Angelo in the album’s third track My Little Love. If you weren’t sniffling and hugging a pillow already, thanks to the opening verses of this Marvin Gaye-tinged soul classic, you will be by the time you finish listening to the voice-note interlude of the mother and son conversation about life in the eye of the divorce storm. 30 is a brave record, even if Adele is doing what we all damn well demanded she do and resume her reign as our queen of heartbreak with her first album in six years. As she promised, here is the divorce album, but it’s also the soundtrack for the lonely, the chronic over-thinkers, the parents who feel guilty all the time and, as pop lore dictates, for the hopeful. She sets the album’s tone with the first line of the opening track, the Judy Garland homage Strangers By Nature: “I will be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart.” The singer and songwriter moves into a 60s girl group vibe with Cry Your Heart Out which switches mood with a reggae-flavoured lift even as she cries out “when will I start to feel like me again?” The album’s mid-section cleverly channels 70s and 80s pop nostalgia into the sound of now. Can I Get It is this album’s Rolling In The Deep, its funky, rhythmic acoustic guitar recalling George Michael’s Faith and unexpectedly featuring a whistling section as she sings about diving into the Los Angeles dating pool after she split from husband Simon Konecki. The next track, the social media darling I Drink Wine, tips its inspiration hat to Carole King as she ponders “How can we both become a version of a person we don’t even like?” All Night Parking returns to the old Hollywood vibes with a sweeter vocal as she shares that intoxicating thrill of falling for someone new. Even if that affair was damned by long distance, before she found new love with sports agent Rich Paul. Hold On is the “big sing” song, every note crackling with her emotional pain as it builds to that gospel orchestral climax reminiscent of the Elvis Vegas years. Album closer Love Is A Game also gives the kind of Presley vibes which make you wonder if a residency in the casino capital is indeed next on her to-do list. The song to inspire a million hug emojis is To Be Loved. “To be loved and love at the highest count, means to lose all the things I can’t live without,” she sings in the devastating piano ballad, defiantly stating throughout “Let it be known that I tried.” 30 is almost a perfect album. Even while great heartbreak pop demands timeless cliches, some of the verses come off sounding like they were spliced together after being plucked out of a hat full of lyrics.But the emotional turmoil and truth of 30 and its sweeping, bold musical statements explain why there was no big reveal with Oprah or any of the promotional interviews Adele did before releasing 30. There was nothing left to say after she sang her heart out.

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