Adele’s latest album 30, which is her first in six years, has been heralded by critics as the singer’s best work, as her “ferociously” honest tracks recalled the likes of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly from the golden age of Hollywood.
The album comes after Adele split from her ex-husband Simon Konecki, with whom she has a son, Angelo.
The 33-year-old Brit Award and Grammy winner said she was “embarrassed” by her divorce but the album is an attempt to explain the split to her son, with the third track incorporating some clips of her talking to the nine-year-old about the break-up.
The singer-songwriter’s fourth solo studio album 30 is the latest instalment in her age series, a follow-up to 2015’s 25.
It is among the year’s most highly anticipated and significant music releases in recent years and includes the UK number one single Easy On Me.
Will Hodgkinson gave the album four stars for the Times, writing that the album was full of “big drama”, adding that Adele had headed for an old-fashioned sound that recalled the golden age of Hollywood.
He added: “The result, possibly unavoidable now that she is a Beverly Hills-dwelling bona fide superstar, is a loss of the British girl-next-door quality that made Adele’s music so appealing in the first place.”
The Independent’s reviewer Annabel Nugent also gave the record four stars out of five, adding the album was more literal than her previous work, “Adele unmediated, Adele unfiltered.”
Mark Savage, of the BBC, judged the album as having “some of the strongest songs of her career” following her divorce.
He added: “That’s what makes it different from her first three albums. Songs like Hello and Someone Like You were all neatly tied up in the language of a lover done wrong, but on 30 everything is complex, messy and uncertain. There are no simple conclusions and no easy answers.”
Alexis Petridis, writing for the Guardian, gave 30 three stars, adding that there were moments where Adele was “pushing gently at the boundaries of what people expect”, but added that her divorce was a topic that swallowed 30 entirely.
“The world may recently have lurched from one unimaginable crisis to another, but Adele’s Easy On Me brought with it the message that at least one thing hasn’t changed: Adele Adkins is still heartbroken and belting it out over a gentle piano and tasteful orchestration.
“Producing an album that’s different from its predecessors, without being different enough to scare anyone off, is a not-unimpressive feat. Given their sales figures, you couldn’t blame Adele for declining to even tinker with a formula that clearly ain’t broke.”
Giving the album three stars, El Hunt for NME wrote the record felt “distinctly unlike anything she has done before”, recalling the likes of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly.
“While Adele’s music is often charged with intense emotional sincerity, there’s an old-timey campiness here that seems intentional,” she added.
The Daily Telegraph’s Neil McCormick agreed, giving the album five stars.
“The songs are powerhouse, the performances bravura, the emotions intense as the British superstar wrings every last drop of heart and soul from tear-jerking ballads and triumphalist pop.
“Grappling with guilt, shame and insecurity over her recent divorce yet infused with a life-affirming sense of liberation, self-forgiveness and burgeoning new romance, Adele Adkins has made what might just be the most potent everywoman album since Carole King’s 1971 classic Tapestry.”
Similarly, Rolling Stone gave the album five stars, with Rob Sheffield writing: “Adele has never sounded more ferocious than she does on 30 – more alive to her own feelings. It’s her toughest, most powerful album yet.”
Ahead of the release, Adele had a sit down with American chat show host Oprah Winfrey which included a pre-recorded live performance at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles featuring never-before-heard tracks from 30.
The album 30 is released in the same four-week period as blockbuster offerings from Abba, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran, with all arriving in time to compete for the festive top spot.
A primetime special concert filmed at the London Palladium, An Audience With Adele, will be broadcast on ITV on November 21.