‘Cry Your Heart Out’ to Adele’s new album ‘30’

Peter Biss

Just three days after its release on Nov. 19, English singer-songwriter Adele’s fourth studio album, “30,” became the U.S.’s best-selling album of 2021, surpassing Taylor Swift’s re-recorded album “Red” and rapper Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” in copies sold during the first week of release.

Adele performs her fourth studio album, “30,” live at the Griffith Observatory, in Los Angeles, California, for the first time. (Photo courtesy of CBS)

In Rolling Stone, an American magazine, the album was praised as Adele’s “most powerful album yet,” an acclaim shared by many media critics, including British music journalist Neil McCormick, Chief Rock Critic of the Telegraph. He called “30” “the most potent everywoman album since Carole King’s 1971 ‘Classic Tapestry’ … or at least since Adele’s own 2011 world-beating classic, ‘21.’”

Written after her 2019 divorce with British entrepreneur Simon Konecki, “30” recounts the deep sadness, guilt and fear of letting a relationship go, as well as the struggle of forming new relationships and what divorce might mean for her child. In hopes of creating an immersive experience for the listener, Adele ordered the tracklist in almost chronological order of events that retold the story of her divorce.

In “Strangers by Nature,” the first song of the album, listeners are introduced to a dream-like symphony of strings that follow Adele as she “tak[es] flowers to the cemetery of [her] heart,” representing the love that Adele lost for her husband. Co-written by Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson, the song’s musical surreality is nothing like what fans have heard before from Adele.

Adele sings her heart out at the One Night Only special, her first live performance since 2011. (Photo courtesy of CBS)

“My Little Love,” Adele’s third song on the album, explores what divorce would mean for her son Angelo, and continues to tell her story of guilt and recovery. The song includes several meaningful conversations that Adele had recorded during and after her divorce, including a tear-jerking bedtime talk that she had with her son during a time of tremendous stress.

In an interview with reporter Quinci LeGardye, Adele spoke to the deeper, more personal complexities of “My Little Love.”

“That night I put Angelo to bed, when I recorded that, and we actually had a really good bedtime and stuff like that, and then I fell apart afterward,” she said. “I’m not ashamed of that. I think a lot of parents hide things from their kids, as we should in most cases, but I couldn’t hide from him.”

In her final jazz-inspired title, “Love Is a Game,” Adele leaves listeners the more optimistic impression that despite her pain and struggle to move forward, she will learn to love again. This is my favorite song on the track and the multi-layered vocals make for a profuse listening experience.

In an interview with the BBC, Adele said that “30” was the most difficult album that she has ever written, and that while she has a difficult time listening to the album, it needed to be released.
“It was bloody hard work to make. I was singing things I didn’t even realize I was feeling or thinking,” Adele said, “I feel like I can’t unlock a door for my own mental health and take the key with me. I’ve got to leave it in the door for everyone else.”

As someone who grew up listening to Adele’s 2011 release of “21,” listening to “30” was an experience like no other that was as enjoyable as it was depressing. While Adele’s voice remained a highlight, the highly personalized subject of divorce and motherhood was something that we do not often hear vocalized in the music industry, making it one of my favorite albums of the year.