Adele: What the critics are saying about her new album, 30

Record is the singer-songwriter’s first in six years

Louis Chilton
Friday 19 November 2021 06:15
Adele opens up to Oprah about having her body "objectified" her entire career

Reviewers across the media have shared their verdicts for 30, the latest album by Adele – and it’s good news for the “Hello” singer-songwriter.

The album, which is Adele’s first in six years, has been heralded as the singer’s best work by several outlets, with many praising the songwriting craft and musicianship.

In a four-star review from The Independent, Annabel Nugent wrote: “Lyrically, 30 is candid. Adele has always been forthright – every bad feeling you’ve felt, she has confessed to feeling too – but there is a new immediacy here.

“Earlier songs spoke in platitudes and broad strokes. They projected human emotions onto the natural world – a shallow valley, a shelter in the rain, the river running nearby where she grew up. But the singer of 30 is more literal. Adele unmediated. Adele unfiltered. Adele opening her Notes app at 3am mid-anxiety attack and jotting down whatever comes to mind.”

Rolling Stone gave the album five stars, with Rob Sheffield writing: “Adele has never sounded more ferocious than she does on 30 – more alive to her own feelings, more virtuosic at shaping them into songs in the key of her own damn life. It’s her toughest, most powerful album yet.”

Will Hodgkinson gave 30 four stars in his review for The Times, describing it as a “grown up, sophisticated, middle-of-the-road album”.

He wrote: “Adele’s voice remains remarkable: pure and unaffected, with that extremely rare ability of hers to convey big drama, small intimacy and throwaway humour all at once. And there is nothing here that offends or jars, no blatant attempts to jump on trends, no streaming numbers-aware collaborations with big rappers or pop stars.

“Instead Adele has headed for an old-fashioned sound that recalls the golden age of Hollywood, with Disney film orchestrations, busy jazz chords, churchy organ swells and Barbra Streisand-style displays of vocal prowess.”

The Financial Times awarded the album four stars too, with reviewer Ludovic Hunter-Tilney writing: “Mostly recorded in Los Angeles, where the 33-year-old lives, its 12 tracks have a lavishly stripped-back feel. Electric organs and bass give the music a warm glow.

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‘30’ has been warmly received by critics across the board

“Rich in musical detail, with a blockbuster turn from the singer, 30 is a gripping act of big-budget vulnerability.”

Neil McCormick wrote, in a five-star review for The Telegraph: “Adele’s much-heralded new album is set to be all-conquering, if you ever had any doubt. The songs are powerhouse, the performances bravura, the emotions intense as the British superstar wrings every last drop of heart and soul from tearjerking ballads and triumphalist pop.

“Grappling with guilt, shame and insecurity over her recent divorce yet infused with a life-affirming sense of liberation, self-forgiveness and burgeoning new romance, Adele Adkins has made what might just be the most potent everywoman album since Carole King’s 1971 classic Tapestry.”

Meanwhile, the Evening Standard gave the album four stars, with critic David Smyth writing: “As she sings, the biggest musician in the world frequently sounds extraordinarily vulnerable. It no longer sounds like she’s making music to achieve towering sales figures.

“At times, her fans will wonder why someone who has guarded her privacy so fiercely has shared some of these nakedly despairing songs at all.”

The album is available via Columbia on 19 November.

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