This album took me a few listens (consecutive and immediate upon purchase, obvi) to decide if it was a masterpiece or a standard album of soulful vocals. It's not perfect, but there's a lot to love here. The magic of Adele is in the conviction with which she sings every phrase, which demands our focus. TRY to multitask while she's singing - tough.
  1. When We Were Young
    This song is so beautiful and truly transfixed me the first time I listened to it, and it hasn't lost that effect on me. When she goes for the high note and it's jagged and strained it's so perfect it slays me. And the way she says "Oh I'm so MAD I'm getting OLD, it makes me reckless..." I'm like, I HEAR YOU, Adele. I hear you so hard.
  2. Hello
    Come on. You know it's phenomenal. There are 100 technical reasons it's been stuck in your head. Repetition. Chord progression. Relatability. Short phrases. Notice how quickly you memorized it? Knowing a song so well begs repeated listening. Also the brain requests to hear it in its entirety whenever it hears a clip, which for Hello is basically every 5 minutes these days.
  3. Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
    This song has such good rhythm and percussion that it wouldn't matter if the lyrics sucked. But they don't. They're catty and sophisticated at the same time. I love the idea that she's trying to be adult in a song where the title alone is passive aggressive. Also she requests "just the guitar" and then there is clearly someone on a kick drum. Even Adele is disobeyed.
  4. I Miss You
    I'm not quite sure why this one has my heart. I just think it's beautiful and haunting. The intro is a tad cheesy at times, but I love the way I feel when I'm listening to it. It's one of those songs that immediately becomes the soundtrack to my life in that moment in a way that other songs don't. It changes the way I move.
  5. River Lea
    This one took me a few listens, but I love the message in the song about ones inability to truly escape your context. I have never yearned to escape mine, but I can certainly relate to how engrained it is in the fibers of my body. And I have definitely blamed it on inextricable parts of me before.
  6. Sweetest Devotion
    This sounds to me like the end of her concert before the encore. So much. Or the song during which she introduces the band. Regardless, it's pretty and I love hearing what I imagine is her son. I also just can't stand how amazing it is when she opens up her voice like she does on the choruses. It sounds like it feels so good for her -- like stretching.
  7. Million Years Ago
    At first, something about the melody and accompaniment of this song sounded like what someone might be strumming in the corner of a Medieval pub. But I love that she isn't afraid to address fame and adulthood so frankly and articulately -- especially in such a "must be nice" culture where famous people aren't really allowed to say anything bad about the job.
  8. Water Under The Bridge
    This song feels to me like they were stretching to give Adele an anthem rather than letting her do what she does: make any genre of song anthemic by her performance and delivery of it.
  9. All I Ask
    First of all, something about it really sounds like it's being played in a mall. Which is a shame because her voice sounds DYNAMITE on this track. I don't know why the instrumentation isn't more interesting. I also generally HATE a key change like this one. You're better than that!
  10. Remedy
    This song just doesn't ring as true to me...and the melody feels uncharacteristically derivative. Which is a bummer.
  11. Love In The Dark
    Despite the beautiful strings, it really sounds to me like she's making up the words as she's going along. There's something about the pacing of the lyrics makes her sound like she's taking her lead from the score and following it musically. Like something a musical improv group could make up on the spot. Or as if someone tried to explain the "pocket" to her and she sat too far back from it.