Adele • 25 • XL/Columbia • Release Date: November 20, 2015 (album)
One of the most arduous tasks following an extended hiatus is returning with the same vigor and fire that you once had. For Adele, it’s understandable that she not follow up 2011 diamond-certified effort 21 quickly – there was no reason to. Adele allowed one of the finest albums of the 10s to receive its just due without crowding it with a new album to compare it to. The other side of that is that 21 was such an awesome album that finding just the right, unforced follow up required a certain amount of time. Face it, when an album sets the standard, topping that effort is expected or nearly expected.
25 drops November 20, 2015 and could quite possibly land the biggest sales of 2015. Billboard spent time debating if anyone could catch Drake for the largest week of 2015. Most folks who voted in the poll had Adele atop their list. There is no doubt, no matter how much it sells, that 25 will be a juggernaut commercially. While the verdict on the material itself can’t be determined until the album drops, “Hello” proves that Adele is off to a fast start.
The minute the new Adele dropped, skeptics were ready to pounce that Adele’s new single would probably be dramatically overhyped. That is not the case in the least; “Hello” is simply outstanding. Vocally, Adele sounds as if she hasn’t missed a beat since 21 and considering the from that album – “Rolling in the Deep,” “Set Fire To The Rain” and “Someone Like You” among them – that’s saying something. A ballad with restrained, poised verses and emotional, gargantuan chorus, “Hello” is made for the soulful pop diva. From a first listen, this is exceptionalness exemplified.
Besides being a ballad and featuring a powerhouse voice, what makes “Hello” a winner? It’s the vulnerability of the songwriting and Adele’s performance. Adele reflects on the past – specifically a relationship – examining her mistakes and trying to atone for them. It’s tried and true, but when you can sell it the way Adele does, there’s no shame in the game!
Pros: The voice and authenticity of the vocal performance; sound, relatable songwriting; tried and true formula (balladry) suits Adele
Cons: None that are notable; not much risk taking but does near-perfection need to take risks?