Adele’s “30”: Love, loss and a lesson for a child

Adele released 30 on Nov. 19 as a way to explain love, loss and a lesson for her child.

Kristopher Harris

Adele released “30” on Nov. 19 as a way to explain love, loss and a lesson for her child.

Nick Sack, Managing Editor

After a six-year hiatus, Adele released her fourth album, “30” on Nov. 19. Once again, Adele transforms her crushing heartbreak into a graceful defeat, but this time, she offers her music as a gateway into her mind for her eight-year-old son, Angelo, to understand why her marriage ended. 

Her lyrics and melodies go past those of a typical breakup album. She’s showing the rawest parts of loving and losing. She demonstrates how divorce takes a colossal toll on family, what it takes to rebuild herself and the most painful part of all, learning to love again. 

Through the release of her album, Adele petitioned Spotify to remove the “shuffle play” option for albums, as she said in a tweet that, “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended. Thank you Spotify for listening”

Adele begins her 12-track album with a dramatic retelling of her past relationships through “Strangers By Nature”. The heartbreak presents itself quickly through the opening line, “I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart.” 

Next comes the familiar “Easy On Me”, where Adele, for the first of many times throughout the album, asks for mercy from her son, Angelo. Throughout the whole song, she’s articulating how things have changed, and she pleads, “I had no time to choose what I chose to do, so go easy on me.” 

“I just felt like I wanted to explain to him, through this record, when he’s in his twenties or thirties, who I am and why I voluntarily chose to dismantle his entire life in the pursuit of my own happiness,” Adele told British Vogue

My personal favorite track, “My Little Love,” is addressed directly to Adele’s son, as she shares intimate voice recordings of conversations between her and her son during the divorce. As one of the five songs that surpasses six minutes of length, “My Little Love”, shows how brutal divorce can be, causing a mere eight-year-old to doubt his mother’s love as they share a tender back and forth conversation. 

 

“Oi, I feel like you don’t love me”

“Why do you feel like that?”

“Do you like me?”
“You know, mommy doesn’t like anyone else like I like you, right?” 

 

In the final lines of the song, Adele shares a voicemail she left for a friend on one of her worst days following the divorce, speaking about how “I feel like today is the first day since I left him that I feel lonely.” 

These feelings transition perfectly into the next song, “Cry Your Heart Out”, which, as the title suggests, portrays the sadness that comes with any breakup. She mentions how she feels invisible, unstoppably sad and exhausted.

Everybody wants something from me. You just want me.”

— Adele

After trying to start again, Adele shows her experience in trying to date again through two shorter tracks, “Oh My God,” and “Can I Get It”. These two songs go hand in hand as she copes with the emotional void left following her divorce. She’s looking for love again, despite her friends’ efforts to show her she isn’t ready, “I don’t have to explain myself to you. I am a grown woman and I do what I want to do.” 

Reaching the middle of the album, “I Drink Wine” is a coping of the reality of the world. Adele shows how tired she is of ego-death and of pretending to be someone else. Through this song, she reasserts who she is and what she wants from the world. 

“So I hope I learn to get over myself. Stop trying to be somebody else,” she continues, again talking to her son, “Everybody wants something from me. You just want me.” 

She concludes the song with another voice memo-style confession, saying that, “The only regret I have: I wish that it was just at a different time, a most turbulent period of my life.” 

Adele reminds the listener that she hasn’t quite forgotten how to love, as she features Errol Garner in her “All Night Parking” interlude. The dreamy track introduces the final third of the album, which begins with “Woman Like Me”. 

In “Woman Like Me,” Adele defines her own self-worth. She knows how good she can have it, and she lets the world know that she won’t be complacent anymore, as she says “I know that you’ve been hurt before, that’s why you feel so insecure. I begged you to let me in, ’cause I only want to be the cure. If you don’t choose to grow, we ain’t ever gonna know.” She’ll only accept a man willing to get better. 

After reminding herself to be patient through the emotional rise of “Hold On”, she finds the real peak in “To Be Loved”, as she writes the track to be a “flash forward” from “My Little Love”, telling an older Angelo why her marriage didn’t work. 

“To Be Loved” is defining for Adele’s music, giving a read all through the line, “To be loved and love at the highest count means to lose all the things I can’t live without.” To me, Adele created a world to explore through “30”, but all of it is for naught without feeling the raw feelings of “To Be Loved”, as she begs and pleads over and over that, “Let it be known that I tried.” 

The heartbreaking, earth-shattering album comes to a close through “Love Is A Game”, which gives a small peek into the true anger that Adele has felt towards love, “Love is a game for fools to play, and I ain’t fooling (fooling). What a cruel thing (cruel thing) to self-inflict that pain.” Though angry at its core, the pop ballad resolves itself by Adele realizing that she can love herself without having to love other people. 

With the rest of the album, Adele’s “30” features the pain of a woman who endured seemingly impossible challenges without losing her love for her son, her soul or her heart. Throughout “30”, you can tangibly feel the triumph of a woman who lived to tell the tale.