Adele's 25: A Reflection of Life, Love and the Beauty of Growth

To say that Adele’s 25 was one of the most highly-anticipated albums of 2015 would be a vast understatement and you know it. In fact, the follow up to her sophomore album, 21, has been the most eagerly awaited album since Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience.

Like any follow up to a massively successful (and now iconic) album, there's bound to be immense pressure. Would it be able to live up to 21’s glory? Could it really live up to all the hype? Would Adele truly be able to do it again?

The answer to these questions is YES . . .  and no.

See, while 25 definitely lives up the hype it was given, it does not compare to 21 - it surpasses it. So, in a sense, Adele doesn’t “do it again,” she breaks through to a new level and tops herself. Now I know that’s going to seem like an outlandish (borderline blasphemous) statement to those who hold 21 to the high-esteem it deserves, but hear me out.

The reason I, and many others, feel 25 is Adele’s best record to date is not only due to the fact that this album truly is an amazing and complete piece of artwork (arguably the best of 2015) but also because it is an album coming from the best version of Adele we’ve seen yet.

In a few short years, we’ve seen Adele’s career skyrocket as she has sold millions of albums, beaten almost every record possible (with 25, she’s now overtaken *N’SYNC’s record for first week sales with more than 3 MILLION albums sold) and won every award imaginable (she’s halfway to an EGOT and not even 30 yet!) Personally, she’s found herself in a happy relationship and through that, has become a mother to 3 year-old Angelo James, whom the track "Sweetest Devotion" is penned for. It is because of all that she’s experienced in these last couple of years that we are finally seeing a different side of the blue-eyed songstress.

Where 21 was the quintessential break-up album of our generation, 25 is an album that expresses the importance of self-reflection and the growth one needs to undergo to do that. Adele’s had the chance to live a little and experience that growth in the almost five years since her last album and like anyone from the ages of 21 to 25, she's grown into a stronger, happier and more settled individual – and it shines in her music.

In songs like “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” and “Sweetest Devotion” we see a refreshingly lighter side to Adele. In “Send My Love,” she takes the high road for her own sake by forgiving her previous lover and wishes him well by asking him to “treat her better” because she now realizes they have “to let go of all of [our] ghosts.” In “Sweetest Devotion,” which is inarguably the sweetest song on the album, she beautifully acknowledges the new kind of “overwhelming” love her son has filled her with through motherhood in song as she already has in interviews.  

But it is in slow ballads when we see her reflect on her own fame and ask her love for one last night to remember her by that we see the highest points of the album that inexplicably call back to what made 21 so magical. In “Million Years Ago,” we see her reflect on her fast-track to intense fame as she recalls back to simpler days and mourns all she’s lost to fame and time. “All I Ask,” is another beautiful ballad and probably the one you’ll cry the most to. In it she asks her lover to remember her fondly before they go their separate ways, which while it comes across as the best thing for the both of them, it is seemingly regrettably so as she ponders if she’ll ever love again.  

In all, 25 is an album filled not with the burning fire of a lamenting, scorned lover eager to stick it to her cheating ex while simultaneously trying to figure out what went wrong like 21 was. Instead, the Adele we are shown here is a woman in the prime of her life reflecting on all that made her, seeking closure in the acceptance of past heartbreaks and looking towards the future where she is now able to clearly discern what kind of life she is deserved of and what aspects of her past life she must leave behind.

It is in this evolution she has put to song that we too are able to revel in the beauty that comes with renewal and growing up.

However, it’s important to remember this is still Adele we're talking about so while you rejoice in the new music and the new Adele, it's probably still best to keep the wine on ice and the tissues well stocked.