Adele and her works have become vessels for most people to convey their deepest and crudest feelings, and this collection of 12-songs is no different, talking mainly about serious things only–heartbreak, divorce, parenting, and falling in love as a famous person. Although most of the songs were recorded a couple of years ago, 30 adds a new layer to Adele’s music, taking listeners through a personal adventure of self-encouragement and healing and is arguably her biggest gift to the world yet.
She comes on strong in 30‘s opening track ‘Strangers by Nature,’ saying, “I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart/For all of my lovers in the present and in the dark.” Healing from a traumatic divorce, ‘Strangers By Nature’ feels like a subtle but solid moment of personal reinforcement. At the end of the Ludwig Goransson co-composed track, she declares “Right then I’m ready,” affirming she’s now prepared to move on, to heal, but most importantly, to walk us through her struggles.
‘Strangers By Nature’ is followed by the now famous personal appeal, ‘Easy On Me.’ Of course, self-awareness, forgiveness, and acceptance are key to successfully navigating recovery from emotional trauma. After all, why choose regret when we can all learn from mistakes and become better.
That’s exactly what Adele does on the next track ‘My Sweet Love.’ Her relationship with charity magnate Simon Konecki may have ended on a sad note but it did bless her with a son, Angelo. She had earlier told Apple music’s Zayne Lowe that this album is dedicated to him, and on this record she was bold enough to add voice recordings of chats with Angelo, documenting her delicate mental state. “While I was writing it, I just remember thinking of any child that’s been through divorce or any person that has been through a divorce themselves, or anyone that wants to leave a relationship and never will,” she says about ‘My Little Love.’ “I thought about all of them, because my divorce really humanised my parents for me.”
The mood lightens up a bit in ‘Cry Your Heart Out.’ It’s okay to cry sometimes. It’s part of the healing process. But ‘Cry Your Heart Out’ feels like that moment you burst into laughter in the middle of tears, because everything’s all clear now, and you’re really tired of wallowing in sadness, and there’s really nothing left to say or feel. So, you just snap out it.
The two records that follow- ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Can I get It’ back up 30‘s mood switch-up, with rock-style music affirming Adele’s desire to love and be loved again.
However, ‘I Drink Wine,’ again, exposes Adele’s human side, as she highlights the harsh realities of life, in instantly quotable lyrics (“We’re in love with the world, but the world just wants to bring us down”). “Stop trying to be somebody else, so we can love each other for free,” she sings as if to say “I’m enough, I deserve love, I deserve better.”
On the Erroll Garner sampled ‘All Night,’ Adele talks about a certain mystery man, before oozing self confidence and lustre in ‘Woman Like Me.’ However, it is ‘Hold On’ that carries 30‘s pinnacle moment and highlight.
From rendering a personal appraisal of her heartbroken self (“I swear to god, I am such a mess/The harder that I try, I regress”) to making powerful revelations (“Sometimes loneliness is the only rest we get”), Adele reaches a tipping point (“Let time be patient, let pain be gracious/Love will soon come, if you just hold on”), emerging with the project’s most potent message. Speaking in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on the 12th of November, 2021, Adele opened up about ‘Hold On,’
“My friends always would say, ‘Hold on’ when I would feel like the lyrics in the verse. But it was just exhausting trying to keep going with it It’s a process. The process of a divorce. The process of being a single parent. The process of not seeing your child every single day–wasn’t really a plan I had when I became a mom. The process of arriving for yourself every single day and showing up for yourself every single day and still running a home, still running a business so many people know what I’m talking about.”
‘Hold On’ is also her best rendition on 30, hitting notes that many talented singers will only attempt during fun karaoke nights with friends. The record ends with an emotional tribute and showing of support, with Adele’s friends singing. She explained, “The thing that they’re all singing is what my friends used to say to me. That’s why I wanted them to sing it, rather than an actual choir.”
The remaining records on 30, ‘To Be Loved’ and ‘Love Is A Game’ touch on themes of love–the highs and lows of being in love and being loved. The last record in particular, details what it would take for Adele to love again. “All your expectations of my love are impossible/Surely you know/That I’m not easy to hold,” she sings. And while being in love is to be a fool, [Love is a game for fools to play/And I ain’t foolin’ (foolin’)], Adele is ready to experience love again despite the heartbreak and the harsh lessons–a remarkable showing of absolute healing from trauma, and Adele is happy her story made it to the world through 30.