(November 20, 2020). Adele’s new album 30 is finally here. And, as expected, the critics (and fans) are raving.
They’re calling 30 her most personal, self-revelatory project yet…the first to follow her recent divorce from Simon Konecki and an album whose pain comes through in brilliant technicolor. Their near-unanimous verdict is, even more so than before, she lets listeners see inside her soul and gives insight into what the last three years have been like for her. To boot, Adele even gives us one of those ugly cries—complete with sniffles—on the album’s most poignant track, “My Little Love,” where she pours out her heart to her young son Angelo (and later to us?) about the pain of being confused and lonely—clearly resulting from the decision she made to end her marriage.
To continue with that example, the beauty of “My Little Love” is how Adele confides in her young son as if the 9-year-old (or younger) boy understands her dilemma, or that his understanding is somehow therapeutic as his 33-year-old singer/mother navigates the complexity of her pain. By including excerpts of a dialogue she may have had with him at any point along the three-year timeline this album purportedly covers, you hear the youth’s innocence and perhaps his own confusion as he asks the simple question “why?” as his mother tries explaining to him her role in leaving his father.
Perhaps Adele’s long cry at the end of “My Little Love” is from the realization that young Angelo really doesn’t understand and will likely struggle with a split household later in life—just as the singer apparently did in a childhood where she felt abandoned by her own father (as revealed in the recent Oprah interview).
“My Little Love” is just one of the critics’ darlings on an album full of ‘em (its 12 tracks have a total run time of less than an hour—the way it should be, by the way). Listeners surely won’t tire of listening to 30—especially her biggest fans—before they even get halfway through it (unlike recent superstar releases by Drake, Kanye West and, yes, Taylor Swift, each sporting more than 20 tracks apiece).
Yet while the millions of people who’ve likely already heard 30 by now may be raving over the entire album, some of Adele’s biggest fans gave one track in particular the royal treatment before hearing a single note of it.
When Adele shared the album’s track list several weeks ago, the intriguing title of the tune “I Drink Wine” generated more buzz than any other on 30, causing Adele Twitter to go berserk.
Check out some of these tweets from smitten fans who’d already anointed it a classic.
I’ll admit, even I wondered what a song by Adele called “I Drink Wine” might sound like, not only because the prospect of a drinking Adele made her more human than even the f-bombs she occasionally drops in those all-too-real interviews, but because I’m always intrigued by three-word song titles. They are the optimal length to capture and hold people’s attention—just short enough to make it easily searchable in streaming platforms, and just long enough to get their point across (if it had just been called “Wine” or “Drink,” that would’ve left the door open to too many possibilities). The absolute specificity of Adele telling us she drinks wine couldn’t be more insightful into any superstar’s personal struggles—or joys as it were—take your pick.
Yet while I can see hordes of people seated at a local pub and joining in on the sing-songy choruses of “I Drink Wine” while swaying back and forth with, ironically, beer in hand, it isn’t the best song on 30. It’s not even in the top half (she disappointedly only mentions “wine” once in the lyrics—its best takeaway being the ego-deflating refrain “so I hope I learn to get over myself…”).
Even the emotional “My Little Love”—as confessional and compelling as that future classic is and which I’ve already spent three or four paragraphs of this article discussing—isn’t the best track on the album (it’s in the top two though).
No, the best song on 30 is one of the few that won’t have you reaching for that box of tissues you and countless others no doubt had handy at 11:59 pm Thursday as you prepared to play this album for the first of many times this weekend.
The best track is the sixth one: “Can I Get It,” an up-tempo number that’ll have your head bobbing while remembering that the British chanteuse is just as capable of a good bop as she is a sobbing ballad.
“Can I Get It” begins as jangly, guitar-driven folk-pop, but evolves into a hip, funky number equally at home on top-40 radio or an R&B playlist. Adele’s vocals come across just as confidently as they did on the mega-smash “Rolling In The Deep” a decade ago. The whistle-infused post-chorus (courtesy of pop titan, songwriter/producer Max Martin) is reminiscent of tricks used on ‘80s hits like “Centerfold,” “Wishing Well” or “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” And most importantly, it doesn’t wallow in its own pain and sorrow, or if it does it’s very well disguised.
“Can I Get It” is all those things without feeling out of place on an album that’ll be mostly remembered for its tear-jerkers. The Max Martin and Shellback-produced song is reportedly about Adele trying to navigate the single life (post-divorce?) and not wanting her dating to be of the casual variety. The lyrics, which Adele wrote with the song’s producers, are clever and the production is top-tier, with little subtleties like those random horn snippets we hear in the second pre-chorus that play like ear candy as the trip-hop beat shuffles along.
Admittedly, I was on a flight from Vienna, Austria back to the states on Friday when I played the album for the second time, and it took “Can I Get It” to wake me from a slumber I’d fallen into, both from being tired after a night of packing for the trip home, and, more notably, a sleep the album’s first five tracks couldn’t prevent from happening.
I immediately replayed the tune in a loop and have already heard “Can I Get It” at least four times more than any other 30 track (perhaps with the exception of first single “Easy On Me,” which had a four-week head-start). For easy reference, “Can I Get It” is this album’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” that song that those of us who want a little pep in our pop naturally gravitate towards as we navigate the otherwise endless stream of ballads. “Oh My God”—the mid-tempo track immediately preceding “Can I Get It”–serves as a good warm-up, but it’s the latter that is this album’s lone rump-shaker.
Speaking of the ballads, Adele fans will be very happy in knowing that the four-week No. 1 (and counting) “Easy On Me” is exceeded in quality by several of this album’s other slow-burners, which bodes well for the label’s singles-release strategy and 30’s long-term future. Among the goodies are the already mentioned “My Little Love,” the also much-hyped “To Be Loved,” the self-affirming “Hold On,” and the opening and closing tracks, “Strangers By Nature” and “Love Is A Game,” respectively. Indeed, the torchy “Game,” with its 1960s vibe and fantastic finish, was a great choice to close the album and easily ranks in the album’s top half of tunes.
But none of those—including second single “I Drink Wine”—stands out like “Can I Get It,” which Columbia should have on the ready as single No. 3 (complete with a viral-ready video) as soon as possible!
Of course, these are all just this blogger’s opinions…what say you about Adele’s 30? Feel free to comment below or in any of the social media feeds where the article is posted.
DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
You can also register for free (below) to receive notifications of future articles.