NEW ALBUM: ADELE | 30
In six years, the British superstar Adele releases her first album deals with divorce and moving on, countering misery with virtuosity. Already having the biggest single of 2021 with 84.9m streams in a week on one platform alone; straight to No 1 in 25 countries; a song that received more first-week plays on US radio than any other song ever – wasn’t so much a comeback as an act of global reassurance. The world may recently have lurched from one unimaginable crisis to another, but Adele’s "Easy on Me" brought with it the message that at least one thing hasn’t changed: Adele Adkins is still heartbroken and belting it out over a gentle piano and tasteful orchestration. Her collaborators rise to the occasion, with professional productions from her regular wingman Greg Kurstin and Ludwig Goransson, Tobias Jesso, Max Martin and Shellback. And it’s a star-making moment for London producer Inflo, who steps up to the spotlight in gems like the sultry acoustic-guitar workout “Woman Like Me” and the solo show-stopper “Hold On,” which comes on a bit like Ghostface Killah’s Nineties hip-hop tearjerker with Mary J. Blige, “All That I Got Is You.” It builds from spare piano until it explodes into strings and a live band; according to the credits, the choir is “Adele’s crazy friends,” which sounds about right. Producing an album that’s different from its predecessors, without being different enough to scare anyone off, is a not-unimpressive feat, particularly under the circumstances. Given their sales figures, you couldn’t blame Adele for declining to tinker with a formula that isn’t broken. But she does, and it makes for 30’s highlights.