25 is the third studio album by British singer and songwriter Adele. It was released on 20 November 2015, through XL Recordings. Following the release and international success of her second studio album 21, Adele considered quitting the music industry and going out on a positive note. However, she decided to take a hiatus instead and raise her son. During her sabbatical, she suffered from writer’s block and rescheduled studio sessions for a new album, fearing she had lost her ability to write songs. In 2013, Adele had a breakthrough and the material that eventually became 25 manifested, with writing and recording continuing through 2015.
25 received generally positive reviews from music critics, who commended Adele’s vocal performance and the album’s production. The album was a massive commercial success, debuting at number one in more than 25 markets and broke first-week sales records in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom and United States; in the US, the album sold 3.38 million copies in its first week of release, marking the largest single-week sales for an album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991. 25 eventually became the world’s best-selling album of 2015 with 17.4 million copies sold within the year, and has sold 20 million copies as of June 2016, making it one of the best selling albums worldwide. Following 21, it was certified Diamond by theRecording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of ten million copies in the United States, making Adele the only artist of the 2010s to achieve this certification with two albums. Many journalists felt that the album impacted the music industry by encouraging the public to return to buying physical albums, instead of downloading or streaming.
Hello—-Worldwide familiarity defines the intro and body of this track. By time of the proper album release, this track was already a world-wide smash. The vocal is haunting and beautiful…powerful and full of a sad soul. Instrumentally, this does not differ from standard Adele fare…full of orchestration, strings and piano heavy. The low hum that runs through the underbelly of the track makes it sadder than necessary….but beautiful.
Send My Love [To Your New Lover]—-From the first listen, I was sure this would become one of the biggest Adele tracks ever released….simply because it had all the elements of a smash….a undeniable hit….a dance beat….a chorus that is huge…and it was different enough to capture the world. Why this track was not much bigger is beyond me…except to say the public is fickle…it wallows in ‘sameness’. For me personally….one of the best Adele tracks ever!
I Miss You—-With a nice ‘spacey’ intro, the track does come alive a bit…although it seems to take forever to get there. The vocal is much what we have come to expect….it is really the trademark Adele chorus that sucks in the listener and sticks to your bones…and in your head. The song has nice added backdrop vocals that give the song a much fuller sound than when it started. Nice….but rather predictable I think.
When We Were Young—-Once again stark and full of an under-lying melancholy, when Adele begins to sing the track takes on a full bodied feel. The piano is ever present…but it is the vocal that is the star of the show. The lyrics are sad….but somehow have a ray of hope. I think the chorus is the magic piece though….giving you meat to sink your teeth into. Magnificent.
Remedy—-My only real complaint about this release as a whole is the sameness of the tracks. The saving grace always arrives when this woman opens her mouth. The runs and the vocal inflections save even the most mundane track from mediocrity. The stripped down sound of this track becomes a full bodied masterpiece when you add the voice.
Water Under The Bridge—-At the onset, this track, musically has a much fuller sound….full of other instrumentation rather than relying just on the stark piano. It almost seems like the production moved the voice a bit to the back of the track so the music is able to drive the song a bit more. The chorus, as usual, is huge and will stick in your head for hours after hearing it. A stand-out track!
River Lea—-The odd church style organ music is different at the onset of this track. The vocal is naked and in your face as the track begins to take shape. There is little room for imperfections…lol. The track takes a bit of an ebb and dies out a bit but comes alive a bit with the chorus. To me…this is Remedy with a different title…..one of the weakest tracks if you can say that about this album.
Love In The Dark—-Returning to the orchestrated sound that works so well with her voice, this track is full of stark piano and swirling strings. The vocal is very in your face….with the lyrical sentiments forging little new territory. The chorus enters and the voice….so strong and clear soars around the beautiful music. A stand out track…but it breaks no new ground.
Million Years Ago—-Stripped bare with just a slight Spanish sounding guitar as accompaniment, this is really nice. Full of few surprises, it is still beautiful in a stark and naked kind of way. The vocal soars with perfection and clarity.
All I Ask—-Again with the damn piano….lol. This track at this point on the release becomes a bit tiresome….the production should have done a better job with song placement on the disc. The chorus again is the highlight…the vocal soars with perfection and a crystal clear clarity. This is nice….but suffers from sounding to much like everything else.
Sweetest Devotion—-Rounding out this release with a bit of a darker intro full of effects and guitar rather than the dreaded piano, this is a good choice for the closing track. I rather like this track…the double tracked vocal adds to the song and the step back on the huge chorus is nice…if she was right up at the mike we might have been blasted away. This is a nice ending to a masterful release.
****1/2 out of 5