Coldplay: Parachutes; I’m Growing With It

I recently found out a friend is a really big fan of Coldplay, and that may be an understatement. He has seen them approximately 27 times since the beginning of their career.

Again, I am late to the game. I have never given Coldplay a fair listen. It’s not that I don’t like them. In 2011 I did purchase their album Mylo Xyloto and I loved it. I planned on getting into their music more, but then some other artist happened. Which speaks to the mantra of my life; so many artists, so little time!

Since my friend had such a conviction about the greatness of Coldplay, I decided it was time to dive into their catalog. I’m determined not to become distracted again (Well, until the next record sale). So I got on Discogs and purchased their first album from 2000, Parachutes.

On my initial listen I thought Coldplay was boring. It wasn’t anything like the album Mylo Xyloto. The album seemed melancholy and I really didn’t get excited about any of the songs. A few stuck out to me, but nothing I was going to put on repeat. Convinced this must not be one of their best albums, I texted my friend and expressed my feeling of indifference. I asked him if this was a boring album. Maybe there is better things to come? A progression in artistry if you will.

His reply: “It’s one of their best.” Clearly, I was missing something.

I gave it a second listen and read all the lyrics along with the songs. Then I gave it a third listen. Sometimes I find myself hating an album on it’s initial listen, but I fall in love with it on the third and fourth. Yet with Parachutes, I still find myself in the middle.

This album is not my favorite (at the moment), but it has given me a deeper respect for Chris Martin and Coldplay as a whole. I think Martin is a brilliant vocalist and the band writes intuitive lyrics. I do find this album fascinating, because often times the musical tones of the music do not match the lyrics.

As I listen to this album more, I am finding it more appealing and I am beginning to relate to their music. Oddly, I feel it somehow get’s me. The music is alive. Each song is up for interpretation, which gives this album an “I’m here for you” tone.

I may have gone off the deep end here.

My takeaways from this album are “Spies,” Yellow,” “Trouble,” and “Everything’s Not Lost” with “High Speed” coming in very close. These tunes are growing on me more and more, and I’m finding myself liking new songs with every listen.

So really I cannot write much about this album for I cannot figure it out, but I like it. I’m not ready to move on to Coldplay album two because this one has so many facets to it. This speaks to the brilliance of the album. How does an album that is nearly 17 years old speak relevance to listeners today? **Mind Blown**

So I would say that my Coldplay journey is starting out rather interesting. I’m excited about listening to their next albums like I haven’t been for a “new” artist in a long time. Martin’s voice has many layers and together the band makes penetrating melodies. Not to mention the lyrics are like clay and mold to different situations.

Parachutes is going to be on repeat for the next week. Although I feel this album is not going to grow on me, instead I’m going to grow with it.

Happy Birthday Amy Winehouse: Reliving “Frank”

Today Amy Winehouse would have been 33 years old, had numerous more critically acclaimed albums under her belt, and multiple Grammys to go with them.

Winehouse was before her time, yet she was also a beacon of the past. Her vocals proclaimed a renaissance in modern music while being distinctly reminiscent of legendary vocalists past. I cannot find a word that penetrates to the core of Winehouse’s artistry. She was simply unexplainable and for me, completely intriguing.

fullsizerender-9Although Winehouse is mostly remembered for her album Back to Black, in which she won five Grammy awards, her previous record Frank is just as memorable. This album is one of the best compositions of the 21st century and is a must for every lover of music. It doesn’t belong to any one genre.

This album has a completely different vibe then Back to Black. It again defies all genres, but in a different way. Throughout this album Winehouse’s vocals remind me of a pure jazz singer, but not every song is necessarily jazz or has jazz elements.

The essence of jazz music is that each time you sing a jazz song it can be sung a different way through different stylization and emotion. It’s truly an artist’s genre and is completely freeing to the vocalist. This is where Winehouse’s vocals lie in Frank, completely free.

Frank begins with the song “Stronger Then Me.” Like most of the tunes on this album, this song is co-written by Winehouse. This song mixes R&B, soul, and jazz. Winehouse sing’s over these lyrics with her distinct brass and sarcasm. This song sets the tone for the entire album.

Although Winehouse is distinctively wanting someone stronger than her current boy, she immediately goes from the woman in charge straight into the one down position with “You Sent Me Flying.” This sentiment is quickly forgotten as she sings about her new friend, “Cherry,” who has now taken the place of her boy. I’ve never heard someone explain a guitar so affectionately.

Moving on down side A, we have the song this album is most known for, “F*ck Me Pumps.” The lyrical content of this song is about those women that seem to make clubbing a living while seeming to live shallow lives, when they actually just want to settle down. We all know the ones. This is a hard one not to get caught in your head with its addicting rhythm and piano riff.

Another standout on side A is “Moody’s Mood For Love,” a classic jazz  song that has been covered by many artists. This song really shows how savvy Winehouse is in pure jazz. I can just imagine her singing this in an underground jazz club in NYC. This sound parlays into side B.

fullsizerender-10Side B opens with “Take The Box.” This is one of the prize possessions of this album. “Box” takes a ballad turn, while keeping a consistent R&B beat. The metaphorical lyrics are nearly brilliance and I find them to be some of Winehouse’s finest. This song is easily coupled with “What is It About Men?,” which follows the same vibe, yet with a sensual touch.

As I walk away from this album, I am just as intrigued with Winehouse as I was the first time I heard her voice. What I find truly exquisite is how this record reads like a story-book filled with poetry. You can find different meaning in each song depending on your emotional and physical surroundings, but each has a distinct setting. The same goes for Winehouse’s vocals. They are a never-ending book. There is always something new and profound to find in her stylings.

So today we celebrate her life and music that will last decades. Her legacy is much like that of Buddy Holly’s, although her career short, her influence in music is permanent. This album was named Frank due to her “frank” telling of the truth and also in tribute to Frank Sinatra, one of her biggest influences. This album and everything that proceeded was bound to be legendary.

Now only time will measure the legacy and footprint that Amy Winehouse has left on music. Happy Birthday to this beautiful songstress. May you rest in peace while taking another seat too soon in that heavenly choir.

 

Wrapped in Garland

I love Judy Garland.

There is just something about her voice that completely entrances me every time I hear one of her recordings. She is one of the greatest vocalists and entertainers our world will ever see and in my opinion, she is the best.

Most people know Garland from her career defining role in The Wizard of Oz. She filmed this movie for MGM studios when she was a mere 16. This role catapulted her into super stardom and her signature song “Over The Rainbow,” sung by a kid willing to dream, was cemented in the hearts of every American. She would go on to make countless classics for MGM including Meet Me in St. Louis, The Harvey Girls, and Easter Parade.

Some of my Garland records.

Some of my Garland records.

Although that is not where my fascination with this vocal legend started. I am a fan of her later years in show business, mainly from 1951-1969, the year she died. Throughout these years she was less known for the movies she made, but for her live performances. She did make some amazing films during this period like A Star is Born, but they were few and far between compared to her days at MGM.

When I was in elementary school I watched the Judy Garland Christmas Special on TV, but it wasn’t until my middle school years that my mom bought me the CD Judy At The Palace. I was immediately hooked from her rousing renditions of “Rock a Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” and “Get Happy.” Then there was her encore encore of “Over The Rainbow.” Hook. Line. Sinker. I have collected every Garland vinyl since then.

So I have decided to compile some of my favorite Garland performances and bring them to you here. Some are cliché of most Garland fans, but some are rarities that I hope you will surprisingly enjoy.


“Down With Love”

This is a recent favorite of mine. Her catalog is so large and her recordings seem endless. She did this on her ill-fated variety show. It’s a good “screw you” to all the men that had mistreated her throughout her life, not to mention CBS’ treatment of her during filming.


“When You’re Smiling”

Garland opened her legendary concert at Carnegie Hall with this number in 1961. This live album, Judy At Carnegie Hall, is her most legendary album, which is an ode to the brilliance of her performances. Since there isn’t a video recording of this concert I leave you with this version. She often opened shows with the this joyous number and it shows off her comedic chops.


“By Myself”

Garland’s version of “By Myself” is superb compared to everyone elses’. She feels each note with consistent emotion and the ambition to move forward with life. This is another song she sang from personal experience. Her performance is pure perfection. It is sad that CBS cut this number from one of her shows because they thought it was too dark.


“What Now My Love”

Garland’s vocals nearly blew me out of the window when I first heard her rendition of this classic. She first approaches it with a veil of vulnerability, but ends with a shroud of confidence. The closing note of the song gives me chills.


“As Long as He Needs Me”

This song has been a long time favorite of mine. I have heard it sung by many different ladies and I haven’t found a version I didn’t like yet. There is something different about Garland’s approach though. Her rendition shows a different side of Garland. We’ve seen the bitter and empowered Garland through her song choices. Her raw emotion in this song portrays her desire to be loved and  to not be seen as a commodity. She didn’t want to need someone. She wanted to be needed.


Every time I unearth a new Garland recording, or hell, every time I listen to Garland I am always amazed. There are no words that describe my admiration for this amazing lady and how her vocals penetrate directly to my soul. We all have that one artist and for me it will always be Judy Garland.

These performances are just barely a peek into her extraordinary career. I am so thankful that we have all these performances from her variety show. These performances are some of the last glimpses we have of this legend and sadly they are her last great recorded works.

As I come to a close I would like to remember Judy Garland in this form. I have read books and watched documentaries on Garland’s life and they always focus on her troubles. I think this is unfair. Garland lived a magnificent life doing what she loved to do: entertain. Through her gift she continues to touch thousands of lives and through this gift she paved the way for modern entertainment.

I’m simply wrapped in Garland.

Check out My Other Articles on Garland:

Oscar Got Away

Pristine Till Death

 

Merle Haggard: An Okie From California

Recently I had a conversation with my mom about how if I married a girl from CA and had a baby there, the baby would still be half Okie. Well mama tried to explain to me that being an Okie isn’t quite a “race,” but that it is a term to designate where you’re from.

I agree to disagree.

IMG_2195As I sit and contemplate the loss of Merle Haggard this concept has never rung more true. Haggard was well-known for his hit “Okie From Muskogee,” but his relationship with the red dirt did not begin or end there. His parents were from Oklahoma, mostly between the Checotah and Muskogee areas. They moved to California to avoid the dust bowl.

Not too long after they moved Merle was born. They lived in a box car that they had transformed into a home. It was a humble beginning, yet it was laying the foundation for one of the greatest first hand songwriters music will ever witness.

He may have been born in California, but both his parents were Okies. He was raised Okie. That’s all his parents knew. Wouldn’t that make him full Okie?

Throughout Haggard’s life he proved to have the core values of being an Oklahoman. These values include dedication to family, hard-work, respect, being thankful, nobility, and sometimes a little beer. Oklahoma values run deep and they don’t live within borders.

My concept that being Okie runs deeper than where you were born and raised is evident in one of Haggard’s most heralded albums, Okie From Muskogee.

Haggard opens up this live recording from Muskogee’s Civic Center with “Mama Tried,” his musical apology to his Mama for all his mishaps. This number one hit has more than just success behind its name. The deeper layer of this song is the power and meaning of family.

IMG_2198Then he goes into a rousing rendition of Jimmie Rodger’s “No Hard Times.” This song is for all the working men and woman who do all they can to make ends meet. It is the perfect companion song to the “Workin’ Man Blues” found later in the album. Labor created Oklahoma and labor sustains it. If one questions this notion just go visit my friends down in Indiahoma during harvest. You’ll quickly hush up.

A concert from Haggard is never complete without “Silver Wings,” one of my personal favorites from his catalog. He sings this song nearly effortlessly with barely any harmony. The grit is real in this song. For me this song is reminiscing on the past and never forgetting those who laid the foundation for where you live and who you are today.

Haggard then touches on something most Oklahomans have in common, a good drink. He introduces a melody of songs saying they are for the drunks. Haggard properly encompasses this idea in his medley of “Swinging Doors,” “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” and “Sing me Back Home.” We’re not drunks in Oklahoma, but a nice drink every now and then is essential for the majority of us. And then there are those nights….

Side B has many highlights, but two songs in particular make this side profoundly Okie. First comes “Billy Overcame His Size.” This song tells the story of a young man of small stature named Billy. The song goes on to explain how although Billy’s brother received an athletic scholarship, something Billy could not achieve due to his size, Billy did something even bigger. He died for his country.

IFullSizeRender 2n Oklahoma your neighbor’s problems are your problems. We never shy from giving a helping hand from holding the door open to towing a car out of ditch. This is personified in the Oklahoma standard that has been seen through the Oklahoma City Bombing and various tornado out breaks. We never abandon our own. We always overcome our size.

Lastly Haggard serenades the crowd with “Okie From Muskogee.” The song everybody in the audience was waiting for. Although, this song is much more than a catchy ode about the lifestyles of Oklahomans.

This song is about respecting your elders, supporting your country, and staying true to your roots. This song posses the elements of pride, a noble character, and the God-fearing qualities that the majority of Oklahoman’s possess. It is about being proud of where you came from and thankful to those who got you here.

We don’t balk at what has been given to us nor the authority we rightly belong under. We give credit where it’s due and if that means supporting our country then give us a flag and a shotgun. We love our country, our family, and our way of life. That is something to die for. Haggard understood this.

This is just the tip of Haggard’s profound career and what he created. I join the country in mourning one of music greatest songwriters, performers, and musical talents. His legacy cannot be explained by words alone. I do not claim to be a Haggard expert, but I am truly proud of the example he set for his listeners. He wasn’t perfect and he never pretended to be, but he always had values.

American values. Oklahoma values.

If there was only a little more Okie spreading around, a little more Haggard, this country may just be a better place.

God Bless the Hag.

What I Learned at Rydell High

Before there was tween boy bands, glee clubs, and Justin Bieber there was Bobby Rydell.  To be honest there really isn’t much of a comparison, but that puts him in modern language.

I stumbled upon Rydell on YouTube. I was searching the song “My Coloring Book” and he was the only male version of the song I could find. This is one of my favorite songs and Rydell’s version is often overlooked, but it is one of the best. After this encounter I immediately began searching for his records at all my vinyl stops.

FullSizeRender 7One of my first finds was Bobby Rydell…Salutes The “Great Ones.” Rydell was only 19  years old when he released this album. As the liner notes state, he was already a staple on such TV shows as the Perry Como TV shows and Red Skeleton shows as well as a sought after act at The Copa and The Sahara. Not to mention he had already garnered 4 top ten hits.

This album by Rydell takes an interesting turn in his small yet accomplished catalog. Saluting the greats that came before you is not just honorable, but it is quite daring. He was setting himself up for failure. He was singing songs that only the greats, like Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland sang with Broadway standards sprinkled in. How could he compare?

Rydell decided to play by his own rules, translating these songs into a “1961” vibe.

He opens the album with Al Jolson’s “Mammy.” A song that has been adapted in many different compositions. This is essentially a melted down version of “Rockabye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody.” He gives this song a boyish charm with a more modest aura.

He then goes into Sinatra’s “That Old Black Magic.” There is never another Sinatra, but Rydell again accomplishes this song with ease accompanied by a more rhythmic backing. He concludes side A with the Gypsy anthem “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Taking on Ethel Merman is like teetering off a cliff, but he did it with debonair and classic charm instead of Merman’s usually brashness.

FullSizeRender 6Side B contains some real gems starting with the Steve Allen penned “This Could Be The Start of Something New.” Again, Rydell’s arrangers placed the song at a speeder tempo. Instead of the gentler and special aura that only Ella Fitzgerald could give this song, Rydell gives this tune a remix worthy of American Bandstand or Shindig. The same concept can be found in his renditions of “So Rare” and “There’s A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder.”

By the end of the album, Rydell easily wrapped all the ladies around his finger with “The Birth of The Blues.” This song demands answers with its perfectly timed pauses and the way Rydell places the lyrics in a “questionable” phrase. I think there were a few girls fainting at the foot of the stage.

This album is a perfect reflection of what was happening in music culture in 1961. Rockabilly was starting to hit and all the churches were worried about this new “rhythmic” music. The classic pop style of the greats was being placed on the back burner for this new rock and roll experiment.

Rydell attempts to touch both these audiences with this album. His crooning singing style fit in perfectly with the Dean Martins and Jack Jones’ of the time, yet he knew there was something else on the horizon. Although this album may not have been a huge success it is reflection of the development of music and the confusion that both artists and record companies were going through in this transitional time.

This album proposes an idea. It was experimental at the time when experiments were shunned. Rydell’s album not only serves as listening pleasure, but as an artifact of the evolution of modern music. Basically he gave the Great American Songbook and a light, but daring, Rockabilly twist.

Dolly Parton, “New Harvest…First Gathering:” Live Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a bittersweet holiday for me. At one time I had a tight-knit family that willfully and joyously spent the day together. Unfortunately, that family has dispersed and disappeared. Cousins start having their own kids, grandparents start going downhill, and bonds break. Sadly nobody has acknowledged what has been left behind.

I have come to a realization in my life that Thanksgiving is more than just turkey, stuffing, and Grandma’s peach cobbler. Instead I am chosing this time to focus on the life I live. It’s easy to ignore the good things in life, things we should thank God for everyday.

600x600srThe other night I came home and was extremely angry and upset. It’s never easy fighting with someone you are close with. So I did what I always do, I threw on a record. I’m not sure what prompted my choice, but I decided to give Dolly Parton’s 1977 album, New Harvest-First Gathering a spin.

The album opens with “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” This was the only single from this album and it climbed its way to eleven on the Hot Country Charts. The message of this song immediately impacted my emotions. Parton sings, “Cause I can see the light of a clear blue morning. I can see the light of a brand new day….It’s gonna be ok.”

The lyrics resonated with my exact situation and how I was feeling. Parton showed me that there was still tomorrow and she assured me through her brisk and sweet, yet potent voice, that it was all going to be ok, even if I could not see it now. With its gospel infringed instrumentation and backing vocals, this song is nothing but inspiring.

Following this hit comes “Applejack.” A classic Parton story tune where she tells stories of a man who was once called Applejack. He also happened to make the best applejack in town, but he could play the banjo too. We all know Parton can’t give good strumming of a banjo. The song ends with her remembrance of good ol’Applejack and how she is thankful for the lessons she learned on his porch. I cannot count the number of people who fit this exact impact Parton speaks of in my life.

Dolly-Parton-1970s-4Parton then gives Motown a twist with Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl.” She changes the
lyrics to “my love” while giving this song a complete new image. She sings this song almost as a whisper which chimes of her own story and romance. Parton’s husband is much more reclusive then Parton, and there is barely ever a sighting of him. She has a quiet, but strong love, and she doesn’t need to scream that into the world to validate what she has. She was simply contemplating her thanks.

She ends side A with a ballad she wrote both the music and words to, “You Are.” She expressed her love for her husband by stated that he is her inspiration, what makes her happy, and everything she would ever want. If you take this song and mix it with “My Love,” I am convinced that if clouds could sing this is what they would sound like. Her voice is heavenly.

She opens side B with “How Does it Feel.” I was expecting a heart wrenching break up Parton song that she can so generously write, but instead she simply had one question. How does it feel knowing that there’s someone who loves you? It made me think and identify those I am thankful for in my life.

This song is followed by “Where Beauty Lies in Memory.” The song tells the story of a woman that remembers her life as it once was in which Parton concludes “When beauty lives in memory, it lives forevermore.” That’s where my Thanksgiving is. My memories will always live in my mind. I have just not decided exactly what to do with them yet.

Parton then turns “(Your Love Is Taking Me Higher) Higher and Higher,” a number one for Jackie Wilson in 1967, into a gospel medley that you can see any choir swaying to. A good song never dies and ten years later when this album was made, it was resurrected into a new being. This sentiment ties right into Parton’s closing song “There.”

b7569341a49066f8b4179e8af8f97b17“There” is a song of hope that ensures us of a clear blue morning. She sings of what is to become when push comes to shove, when weapons are set down, and peace is resonated among God’s people. She wants to be taken where “lambs lie with lions,” “the meadows grow greener,” and “where there is complete love.” She incases this in a powerful composition that will leave you in goosebumps. The song’s beginnings are chilling, but you can’t utter any other word but Hallelujah when it ends.

She gives the message everybody wants to hear and be a part of, an eternity of love. There is no damnation in her voice; she is simply reminding everybody of God’s promise of eternal life and love.

So in the end there is no need for Thanksgiving, or this time of year, to be bittersweet for me. I am thankful for the memories I have, the people who have impacted my life, and a God that promises me eternal love. I will eventually live a life of Thanksgiving with Him, but for now I must make the best of it on this earth.

It amazes me that Parton nearly wrote the lyrics and music to every song on this album. This record is a testament of her love for family, friends, and Savior. For me it was not just a collection of tunes, it was a reminder.

A reminder of blessings and a God of love that has a place for me. I will see the light of a clear blue morning. I will remember all the blessings in my life and give thanks for what was then and now. I will be taken there.

This album also reminded me that everybody needs to listen to a Dolly Parton album every now and then. I highly suggest it. It’s rejuvenating. As I approach this Thanksgiving, I plan to live it, and I am prepared for a new harvest and who knows what its first gathering will provide.

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Thanks Dolly.

 

Adele’s 25: Nevermind, I’ve Found Something Like Hope

One lone morning around a month or so ago, I opened my Vevo app to much jubilation. There was a new Adele song and video! It was love at first listen. At first I was a little taken aback. I thought she was going to do a remake of Lionel Richie’s classic song and the beginning almost had me fooled.

So Adele is back. I was met with excitement and hesitation. I had been a huge fan of her record-breaking album 21. The Grammys that year were like the Superbowl for me. I nearly screamed at the top of my lungs when she won album of the year. If she had not won, I was prepared to organize a campaign to boycott the Grammys. I had a Facebook page ready to go live at any moment.

81q0mwIoc0L._SX522_But I couldn’t help being nervous and hesitant over new music from Adele. I didn’t know how she could ever top 21 or come close. I was afraid she was going to have gone “commercial” and that the songs would not be sung or written from her heart and soul like the rest. I had faith in Adele. The Adele of 21 would always be there, but I have also witnessed record companies ruin artists.

I was met with the complete opposite. As Adele has stated, “if 21 was a break-up album, then 25 is a make up album.” This is essential in understanding the themes and concepts of this album as a whole. She truly makes up with past and who she is within the walls of this album

When I first heard “Hello,” I knew we were in for another extraordinary album. I love the build up of this song. It starts out with just Adele’s vocals and simple piano chords. The song steadily goes up a mountain of trials and regrets. Then you have the chorus and climax that take this song off the cliff. This song proves that true belters still exist. This is a perfect first single as it promises Adele’s loyal fans that she has not lost her center.

“Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is an outlier in this album. It does not fit into the album musically, but the song adheres to the concept of the “make up” album. As I was looking over the liner notes, I noticed that this song was produced by the famed Max Martin. That explains the extreme rhythmic dance feel to this song, as well as the slight over production. He is the man behind such classics as “…Baby One More Time” and more recently “Shake it Off.” In the end, it’s rhythmic, almost reggae feel is addicting, but I just don’t find this truly Adele. The words get lost in translation.

adele-hello-video-xavier-dolan-tristan-wildsNext we have “I Miss You.” The opening percussion of this song sets the song for a
dramatic console for Adele’s vocals. She contemplates on how she misses someone even though they are gone. She also gives us a taste of her beautiful head voice in the lines leading up to the chorus. I like how this song is stripped of heavy piano elements like much of her music. The percussion gives Adele’s vocals a new back drop that they thrive under.

The next stand out of the album and now the apparent second single, “When We Were Young” is the sequel to “Someone Like You.” Whereas “Someone Like You” hinged on the immediate emotions of the breakup and the finding of someone new, this song focus on an encounter years later. The song returns with strong piano riffs and melodies, and also mirrors “”One and Only” in its gospel vibe. Then there is that one note…..everybody who has heard this knows what I’m talking about. I won’t ruin it for you.

The piano keeps coming with “Remedy.” Adele’s vocals effortlessly combine with the piano into a stand alone instrument. The repetition of the piano riffs mirrors “Turning Tables,” which is due to Ryan Tedder (an Okie!) being the cowriter on this song as well. This song has many more highs and lows. Adele offers herself like she never has before in a song. She wants to comfort the one she loves by being her partner’s remedy. She is offering her love with no regret. This is something new we haven’t seen from her lyrically.

Adele-adele-29997410-500-375The first song on side B is “Water Under The Bridge.” This song now shows a strong Adele, basically asking what the hell? She asked to be let down gently, because the love she feels isn’t over, yet he still seems to be playing her on with different actions and emotions. The song again ventures off Adele’s typical style with more percussion and replacing the piano with more synthesiser vibes. Lyrically, this song is the prequel to “Set Fire to The Rain.” She still wants to rescue what her and her partner have, but needs to know the direction. She does not have anymore time to waste.

One of my favorite things I love about Adele is the way she intertwines themes in her albums over time. You watch her mature with her music. “River Lea” is today’s “Hometown Glory.” The River Lea is a real place located next to where Adele grew up in the United Kingdom. In “Hometown Glory,” Adele talks about the strength of a small town and what she learned from it, but in “River Lea” she is showing how that story now finds itself in her relationships. She is simply an extension of her roots. This song has a strong bass beat that really flavors up Adele’s vocals into something mystical. “River Lea” is a collaboration of Adele and the producer, Danger Mouse. An odd pairing that created a stirring art work.

“Love in The Dark” finds Adele with a full-scale orchestra. This is a song of strength. It can almost be the levelheaded, mature answer to the full album 21. She explains how she can’t act anymore within a relationship, but she can’t deny that it has had a profound impact on her life. She shows strength with heart. She is not coming from just her own borken heart, yet she wants to end any future or current pain for her partner as well. This song’s orchestral arrangement lifts Adele’s vocals into a hard, yet sentimental place.

photoNext there is “Million Years Ago.” Instrumentally this song is simple, consisting of an
acoustic guitar and bass. The song gives off a folk vibe with a tip of a Spanish tango and some eerie chanting. This song personifies a soul lost. She is trying to put the pieces of her life back together by returning to her roots, yet she seems to be ashamed of what she’s become.

“All I Ask” is a stirring and contemplative piano ballad. Although many of Adele’s songs may be considered ballads, I find this to be the true stripped down, full on emotional ballad of the entire album. She is simply asking that if this has to be the last night she is with someone, she wants to end it romantically just in case she never loves again. This song clearly shows a heart deep in the ocean of love and she does not see herself finding air again.

“Sweetest Devotion” ties the whole album together and is the perfect conclusion. In the previous songs, you find happiness, regret, strength, hardness, vulnerability, and pure heartache, yet this song isn’t about any of that. She explains how she finally has found the face she has been looking for all her life and it is that of her son. This song shows how love  can overcome anything. Although she reminds us, the journey matters. Adele’s vocals take on another image. You can sense the journey of life within her vocals, yet more prominently, she sounds full of contentment and happiness.

adele_2013-650-430d-1That is the message I walk away from this album with, hope. That torn up man, who was comforted by the lyrics from 21, is still here and there is no denying that Adele still deals with her own hurtful past. That hurt person is still inside her, but she is surviving and overcoming. She’s made up with life.

Since 21 Adele has gained a new title, mother. I feel terrible saying this, but I was almost afraid we would have an album of “Because You Loved Me” moments. I was wrong in every sense of the word. She is a different person, yet she is still in tune to where she is from, where she has been, and now where she is going.

Adele leaves her audience with hope in 25. She reminds me to never forget my origins and to learn from my past. She also reminds me that life is not going to be easy, it will continue to ebb and flow, but that my best days are ahead of me. Through strength, ambition, and courage, I will never be defeated.

This album is what happens when you truly set fire to the rain.