NEW YORK, Nov 21, (Agencies): Adele has had nearly five years to savor the massive success of her last album but, on a release that could be even bigger, she is looking back wistfully on what once had been.
On Adele’s third album “25”, which came out Friday, the singer has little interest in gloating about fame or experimenting in style, instead returning to the emotional depths that have so resonated with her vast fan base.
Adele, her soaring but soulful voice possessing the same power, retraces the memories of her working-class childhood around London as she reflects from her new, uncomfortable perch.
“I feel like my life is flashing by / And all I can do is watch and cry,” she sings to a delicate, Spanish-tinged guitar on “Million Years Ago.”
“I miss the air, I miss my friends / I miss my mother / I miss it when life was a party to be thrown / But that was a million years ago.”
Adele’s last album, “21”, was led by the raw intimacy of the heartache song “Someone Like You”. But the man who broke Adele’s heart — whoever he was — is long gone, and Adele has since become a mother and found new love.
Yet romantic tumult clearly still has a hold over Adele. “All I Ask”, one of the most emotionally searing songs on the album, intimates at a future rather than a past breakup.
In a booming voice sure to leave many listeners in tears or at least with goose bumps, Adele sings over the piano, “All I ask is / If this is my last night with you / Hold me like I’m more than just a friend / Give me a memory I can use … ‘Cause what if I never love again.”
Adele — who, despite the album’s title, is 27 — has described “25” as a look at her life “teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully fledged adult”.
Adele owes her success in no small part to her unpretentious, non-rock star image. She is not known to shake her body on stage or trash hotel rooms and marks Friday’s release by singing at Joe’s Pub, a cozy club in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Yet Adele nonetheless is carrying the hopes of the music industry. “21” was the top-selling album in the United States for two consecutive years and, by a comfortable margin, the biggest release in Britain so far this century.
The music industry, which has been stagnant after stemming years of heavy losses, believes “25” could be the most successful album in more than a decade.
In the United States alone, Adele’s label has shipped 3.6 million physical copies to stores, according to industry journal Billboard.
The shipment numbers are the highest since “No Strings Attached” by boy band NSYNC in 2000, which was the year before Apple’s iTunes shook up the music business by mainstreaming digital sales.
“Hello,” the first song on “25”, already broke the record for the biggest US debut for a single since the advent of iTunes.
Adele invariably had her pick of the world’s songwriters for such an eagerly awaited album.
“All I Ask” was co-written by another star, Bruno Mars. Canadian indie rocker Tobias Jesso Jr is credited on another of the more intense songs, “When We Were Young”, whose bittersweet harmonies and backup choir have echoes of 1980s pop hits.
Adele’s album “25” was released worldwide on Friday, and even though it will not be on streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer, industry analysts are expecting it to be the hit of the year.
Following in the footsteps of Taylor Swift, who withheld her album “1989” from Spotify because she did not want it streamed for free, Adele’s follow-up to her 2011 hit album “21”, which sold 30 million copies worldwide and won six Grammys, is available for download or as a CD, but not for streaming.
Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer, three of the main streamers, said on Thursday they would not carry it, though they hoped that would change.
“My own personal view is that record is so massive it wouldn’t make any difference” if it were available for streaming or not, industry analyst Keith Jopling told Reuters.
In a message on her Twitter feed on Friday, Adele did not mention the decision not to stream the album but said she hoped fans would enjoy the music.
“This feels such a long time coming … I am so overwhelmed and grateful to be able to even put another record out,” the singer said.
“The last month has been a whirlwind. It’s literally taken my breath away. I hope you enjoy the record as much as I enjoyed making it for you,” she added.
“Hello,” the first single from the album, released at the end of October, has logged more than 400 million plays on YouTube and topped the US charts for the past three weeks.
Trade publication Billboard, citing unidentified sources, said Columbia Records will ship 3.6 million physical copies of the new album in the United States, which could be the largest number of new release CDs shipped in the past decade.