Adele is still sad about everything. It worked brilliantly on her last album, so why mess with success? Even if she is world-famous, filthy rich, and happily settled down with a boyfriend and baby, she can still be really sad about a love that ended long ago, the ravages of age (I mean, my God, she’s TWENTY-FIVE), and the restless longing for a better life that afflicts pretty much all of us.
Consequently, there’s really nothing new on her latest album, named, like the previous two, for her age at the time of production. Most of the songs sound like “Rolling in the Deep” or “Take It All” or other cuts off “21,” her phenomenally successful album from 2011. “Hello,” from the new album, is almost as spine-tingling as “Set Fire to the Rain,” but not quite. “When we Were Young,” “Water under the Bridge,” “Love in the Dark,” and “Million Years Ago,” are fine songs that share the pervasive melancholy that is her trademark. Listen to this album long enough and you will wonder what the hell is the point of going on, anyway.
What saves the album, of course, is her wonderful voice and her willingness and ability to throw herself emotionally into the music. Time and again, she draws you into the song with gentle, sorrowful lyrics and then bowls you over with a sudden emotional blast.
Maybe her fans will never get tired of Adele’s rehashing her former love life, but unless she wants to be remembered as the Carole King of R&B (one huge album followed by years of trying for another), she needs to find some new material.