Review: Adele makes valiant comeback on ’25’

May 24, 2024 | WTOP's Marcus Moore reviews Adele's '25' with Shawn & Hillary (Jason Fraley)

WASHINGTON — Heartbreak takes time to heal. It can consume you if you let it, but it’s important to spend time alone and reflect on how the romance broke down.

Maybe that’s why Adele took so long to create her new album, “25,” and return to our collective view. It’s tough to trek through old flames, even if they helped catapult the singer to almost mythical proportions.

After the rousing success of 2011’s “21,” the singer stepped far away from the spotlight to live a life of normalcy, to raise her young son and repatch her spirit. In a recent Rolling Stone feature, Adele took solace in the little things that get lost with superstardom: like going to the supermarket and driving through rush-hour traffic. Adele is in what she calls a very serious relationship with her son’s father.

In a way, Adele is the anti-superstar. She alludes to feeling uncomfortable when she meets her idols, that she’ll snap out of this dream and return to the crime-riddled district of Tottenham where she grew up.

Musically, the singer sounds like she’s in a better place. Adele trades in most of the melancholy vibe of “21” for a brighter, forward-looking perspective. Throughout her new album, “25,” Adele looks back to when life was simpler.

In getting over the tumultuous relationship that fueled “21,” this album finds the singer embracing the bad times and walking toward certain freedom.

“Everybody tells me it’s ‘bout time that I moved on,” Adele croons near the top of “River Lea,” a standout near the album’s end. “That I need to learn to lighten up and learn how to be young.”

At 27, Adele sings with the same fervor of soul music icons Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack. The music occasionally feels big, yet the soundtrack is largely recessive, allowing Adele’s great tenor to ascend to the fore.

On “Hello,” soft piano keys waft in the background, slowly rising to accompany Adele’s picturesque viewpoint. “Hello from the outside!,” she wails, as if to forcibly push the apology she references. Elsewhere, on “When We Were Young,” Adele asks for just one more moment of familiarity: The past is slowly trickling away, and these moments won’t resurface again.

In the end, “25” stands as a valiant comeback for Adele. Her days are a bit brighter and they’re clearly shining through.

Watch Adele’s video for “Hello,” below.

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