REVIEW: Adele marvelously soulful on ’25’

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Adele, “25,” (Columbia Records);★★★★

Oh how Adele conquered the music world with her release of “21” four years ago. That album-of-the-year Grammy-winner, with its impossibly perfect anthem “Rolling in the Deep” as its calling card, had music lovers jumping over the moon. What would she do next?

Well, there was the best original song Oscar for “Skyfall” in 2013. And the birth of her first child, Angelo (now 3), with longtime boyfriend Simon Konecki. And the vocal cord polyps that temporarily shelved her career in 2011 (successful surgery and total rest saved her voice). Life goes on.

And so we arrive at “25,” the much-anticipated third studioalbum from the 27-year-old Brit with the impossibly perfect, soulful voice. Hello, indeed.

“Hello” | COLUMBIA RECORDS

“Hello” | COLUMBIA RECORDS

The mostly piano-driven melodies are more than worthy of the singer’s beautifully haunting vocals and lyrics that cut like a knife one moment, and warmly embrace the next. “Send my love to your new lover/treat her better,” Adele commands in the rhythmic and playful “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).” “I was so scared to face my fears/Nobody told me that you’d be here,” she muses in the heartache-laden ballad “When We Were Young.” “I remember all of the things I thought I wanted to be/So desperate to find a way out of my world and finally breathe,” she laments in “Remedy” (a bewitching pop offeringmade even more potent by the gorgeous piano strains of Ryan Tedder.)

Howirresistible are the pounding rhythms of “Sweetest Devotion,” co-written by Adele and Paul Epworth, its message straight from the heart: “I’ve been looking for you in every face I’ve ever known/There’s something about the way you love me that finally feels like home,” and featuring baby Angelo’s sweet little voice in its opening and closing strains.And of course, there’s “Hello,” the first single off the album, a no-holes-barred heartbreaker that heralded the singer’s return, to the tune of nearly 28 million YouTube views in 24 hours.

Adele has co-written every track on the album, cutting a wide swath through pop, soul, blues and even a touch of gospel. Nobody does it quite like Adele, and here she has enlisted the help of powerhouse producers/co-writers Epworth (Coldplay, Florence and the Machine), Greg Kurstin (Kelly Clarkson, Pink), and the mighty Swede, Max Martin (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry), among others, to seal the deal. Bruno Mars is among the arrayof co-writers on the urgently bold“All I Ask.”

There’s a sense of longing and yearning for another time, another place that permeates “25.” And whether it’s pain or heartache or exuberance that fuels the fire, Adele serves it up with an effortless, albeit more mature joy. Simply marvelous.

Follow @MiriamDiNunzio//

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