I listened to Adele’s 30 so you don’t have to

By Ryan G

The “I listened to _____ so you don’t have to” series involves song by song album reviews of high profile releases, often for those that might fall outside the usual scope of the site. To say Adele’s 30 was anticipated as an understatement.

I, Ryan, wondered if it would be entertaining if I embarked upon this journey. I actually want you to listen to this though. The title is firmly tongue-in-cheek. Don’t take it so seriously. Or do so. See if I care.

But really, this album is something. On to the songs, eh?

Strangers By Nature – “I am taking flowers to the cemetery of my life.” What a line to kick off a comeback album. Downer much? The lush arrangements in the hook sweep me up out of this valley so ambitiously set off. Feel-o-meter score: 5 feels.

Easy on Me – You’ve already heard this. And you probably dig it. It’s a classy lead single that sets itself apart from most of Top 40 radio today. Feel-o-meter score: 4 feels.

My Little Love – Geez, Adele. I’m not sure when I’ll have a kid but you are intimidating me in a heart rending way about parenthood. Parenthood feels like something worthwhile to aspire to, but I’ve also never been more terrified. But I think this is a good thing. And this is all wrapped in a blanket of melancholy grooves. That outro is definitely something that works well but something I’m unsure I’d return back to on a regular basis, just based on how heavy it is. Feel-o-meter score: 7 feels.

Cry Your Heart Out – The website Genius describes the track as Motown-meets-reggae. It’s an element of fun that was definitely unexpected for this song. This song is sad but also encouraging. I’m reminded of an interview with Dolly Parton on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, in which she moved him to tears with an impromptu rendition of “Bury Me Beneath the Willow” in which she encouraged him in her Dolly way, saying “tears cleanse your soul! Ya gotta wash it out.” Feel-o-meter score: 5 feels (would be higher but the peppy arrangement makes this more palatable for me).

Oh My God – My first reaction to this song is that she sounds badass. What a fun anthem for taking control of your own life. I’m bit of a goody-two-shoes Christian so I’ll do it without taking God’s name in vain, but He knows I could use some more attitude and assertiveness in my life. And I can do it with swagger. Thanks for the reminder, Adele! We should swap stories sometime. Feel-o-meter: 4 feels.

Can I Get It – Speaking of being assertive, this is fun carpe diem sort of track about pursuing a real relationship. It’s rather straightforward and kind of pumps me up. Let’s be real here – I’m almost 33 and tired of being single. Is that cringe-inducing putting it in a music review? If so, who cares? Adele balances out any cringe present from yours truly. That’s how it works, right? Feel-o-meter: 4 feels.

I Drink Wine – The lyrics here are as relatable as all get out. But this song just isn’t grabbing me as much as the others. Could she accomplish her goal here with a shorter version of this? Feel-o-meter score: 3 feels.

All Night Parking (with Erroll Garner) Interlude – A short and sweet track that is warm and soothing. If a woman ever sang this to me I’d probably melt like a stack of Velveeta Cheese on a grilled sandwich with tomato soup. Feel-o-meter score: 5 feels.

Woman Like Me – Here, Adele sings with a tone of resignation. I think of a bit I heard on SNL’s Weekend Update yesterday. I’m paraphrasing, but they said “over the weekend a guy proposed to his girlfriend at an Adele concert, and then they listened to her perform songs about divorce for 3 hours.” Feel-o-meter score: 4 feels.

Hold On – Oh, boy. The first of three songs over 6 minutes long to close out the record. Can I handle this? Well, turns out I can. This is songwriting in its purest form. And the execution feels effortless. Are we going into Gospel territory in the climax of the song? It seems so. Feel-o-meter score: 5 feels.

To Be Loved – The only acceptable environment for hearing this song live will be a lounge setting, with a craft cocktail in hand and a lady by my side. Gosh, that’s so corny. What are you doing to me, Adele? I think the drags a bit too long, but still. Feel-o-meter score: 7 feels.

Love Is A Game – Violins? Awesome. Vocals. Awesome-r. Background vocals? I’m not sure about that. A bit too high pitched and out of placed for me. But an epic album closer bringing the sads? Yes, most definitely. Feel-o-meter score: 4 feels.

So, there you have it. I hope I entertained you a bit and perhaps provoked you into giving 30 a chance. It gives me hope for Top 40 radio – goodness, I sound like such a boomer. 

Follow Adele on Instagram.

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