Review: '30' Well Worth the Six-Year Wait

by JC Alvarez

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday November 22, 2021

There are few events in popular culture as anticipated as the release of a new album from a favorite artist. The digital age of downloads has supplanted the intense anxiety and anticipation of lining up around the local Virgin Megastore or Tower Records, waiting for midnight to purchase the just-minted CDs. Now, with smartphones in everyone's back pockets and digital downloads at all our whims new music is just seconds away — instant gratification!

Fortunately, that shimmer of anticipation persists whenever Adele announces that she's on the brink of unleashing a new album. The British import has become the voice of the new millennium since she was first introduced to the music world in 2008 with her award-winning debut, "19." The album launched the voice that would be associated with the burning heartache of such torch song ballads as "Chasing Pavements," and when she followed that album up with 2011's "21," Adele's versatility extended with the anthem hits "Rolling In The Deep" and the beat-heavy "Rumour Has It." There was no stopping her!

Adele had always laid it all out there, wearing her heart on her sleeve and inviting her audience to experience it all with her. Her latest full-length album, "30" — her newest offering in six (long) years — follows suit. It's a reminder of what makes Adele an anomaly among her piers. As a musician, Adele is uncompromising — if she doesn't believe it, she's not going to write or sing about it. Among the 12 tracks on "30" there isn't a single insincere moment. Not many artists are as revelatory as Adele; she's as naked as Sade and as virile as Mary J. Blige, and yet is something all onto herself.

"30" draws from Adele's own experiences. Just listen to "Woman Like Me" if you need to understand exactly where she's coming from; the track is clearly a defiant declaration that when she loves, she's going to give 100% and she expects nothing less in return. Adele has changed a lot in the last several years, faced her won bit of adversity; divorced, single motherhood, the isolation of quarantine and emerged on the other side with a whole new perspective of the things that matter to her. "Hold On" is a meditative reminder to herself that she needs to do just that: "Hold on; let pain be gracious."

Adele has found the way to make her music resonate so personally with her audience that we feel like we understand her and relate in a way that is unlike any other experience. In quarantine, she had the time and the luxury to look at exactly what state her affairs were in and focus on what matters. It's no wonder the album's debut single, "Easy On Me," had the impact that it did. Her hypnotic vocals and lyrical serenade express exactly what we have been collectively experiencing.

"Cry Your Heart Out" is among one of the album's more uptempo tracks. Beautifully arranged, the song feels like a classic Motown doo-whop. "My Little Love" is a revelatory lullaby featuring an honest conversation with her young son, where she reveals that she doesn't always get it right; "Mama's got a lot to learn," but she's asking, "teach me." In Adele's moments of self-doubt and loneliness she rises above it; she might need to "Curl up in ball," but by the end she announces "Love Is a Game" and "heartache is inevitable".

Adele has moved her music in a direction that transcends. It's why we wait with such anticipation and hang on every lyric, every sweeping minute of her musical experience, and if we have to wait another six years for another new album, it'll be worth it.

"30" the new album from Adele is available on Digital Download.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".