Last night I was, like the rest of the world, listening to the wonder that is Adele's new album, 25. I began to think about why Adele is such a captivating artist, why she stands out among the myriad of performers on the world stage. She certainly has a unique style when she performs, eschewing acrobatics, crazy costumes, and dance troupes for simple backing bands and singing in one place. Her music, for the most part, doesn’t feature the heavy electronic sounds we have become so accustomed to in this day and age of auto-tune. She rarely has club dance hits, instead performing ballads and slightly more up tempo melodies, but never anything you can do the Nae Nae to. And she is easily one of the most vocally talented singers today, sounding as good live as she does in recordings. Are those the reasons her album release has been met with such naked and eager anticipation?
Honestly, I think it’s so much more than that. I had forgotten the effect that her music could have on a person. The way she manages to convey emotions from the depths of one's soul with the melodic ease of a seasoned professional. But that is the image she projects: not only an expert in emotional devastation but a woman who knows what she wants and knows who she is. Maybe this image is driven by the deep introspection that marks her music, from "Hometown Glory" and “Someone Like You” to "Hello" and “Million Years Ago”. It is obvious to anyone who has listened to her music that she has taken time to reflect on her life, her choices, her relationships, and the changes that come with age and experience.
But what makes Adele pure magic is not just her ability to reflect on her life but the ability to convey those reflections to complete strangers. To build bridges connecting our experiences to each other, making us feel united in our conquests, our defeats, our mistakes, and our growth. That is the key to Adele's gift. With her voice, her lyrical genius, and the sense of gravitas that accompanies her performances, she communicates the deepest of human experiences and emotions. It doesn't hurt that she also has an engaging personality, a sense of humor, and an appreciation for profanity that makes you want to ask her to grab a beer with you at the nearest pub.
With her gifts and skill, it’s hardly a wonder that her journey has been so epic over the last few years. She piqued our interest with 19, grabbed our attention with both hands in 21 and has now rejuvenated our adoration with 25. She is a true artist who makes real music with real messages behind them. Her songs carry weight and her vocals have the strength to back them up. She also took her time making this album, focusing on making good music and not just money. Meanwhile, she has managed to protect her family from the scrutiny and intrusion that comes with mega-fame, controlling how much of her personal life the world gets to see and when. She seems accessible without being overly so, barely using social media but still managing to make her fans feel connected. She lets her music speak for itself and stays true to her British roots, managing to be humble without being insecure about her talent.
Adele is the kind of artist who's in it for the long haul, focused on making a mark and not just a quick buck. At 27 she has mastered so much of the game but is still prepared to learn more and evolve as an artist. That should be inspiration enough for anyone looking for modern day musical icons. Thank God for Adele and her mastery of the music language. We are made better for having musicians in this world who can remind us of our shared human experiences, uniting us in an incredibly divided world.