In 2011, British singer/songwriter Adele released the melodious, tasteful collection of a generation – her landmark album “21.” It features songs laced in orchestral drama, like “Rolling in the Deep” and “Set Fire to the Rain,” as well as moody, spicy arrangements like “Love Song” and “Rumour Has It.” Then the world held its breath for an anguishing four years as the beloved singer dipped below the public eye. Finally, in 2015, the album to rival her previous masterpiece was revealed, “25.”
“Hello” establishes the tone of “25,” preserving the richness, anguish, and honeyed envy in Adele’s lyrics. That same hollow, reverberating sadness returns in arguably the second greatest hit from her album, “When We Were Young,” full of even more mirages of a brilliant, lost youth. “I Miss You” follows suit like a dagger in the dark, as Adele pierces every churning passage. “Million Years Ago” captures the essence of that transfixing, lonely, balladeering soul, as folksy guitar chords paint the colors of a wine-soaked youth. Again, Adele draws us in with her perfectly paired lyrics, the theme of precious lost youth stored in the intensity of every word, every note.
The ability to capture imagery has never failed Adele, and in this album the sigil of water runs in every vein. Clear, rushing, pure, and sweet, it washes through “Water Under the Bridge,” a full frontal confrontation about a sinking love, which captures a roaring, swimming sound. Then, “River Lea” sweeps in, pounding with the ferocity of Niagara Falls. Other elements also make their debut in her final song “Sweetest Devotion,” where Adele likens her love to an explosive force so fiery it crackles in every word.
And despite the youthfulness of the album’s title, Adele succeeds once more in flawlessly harnessing the timeless, multi-faceted shape of love. We see it crafted through thrumming, heartbeat-like rhythms, breathtaking vocals, and simple, engrossing lyrics that make the heart sing. It’s no wonder she’s been dubbed a “national treasure”: her songs are everlasting capsules of strength and passion, filled with love from the start. We will always be “25.”
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.