Something Old, Something New Album Review
Steve

Steve

Music Columnist

Something Old, Something New Album Review – Episode 11

Something Old, Something New Album Review – Episode 11

Hey NGCS, we’re back with the first Something Old, Something New Album Review of 2022. In my now seemingly old age I really try not to limit myself musically. When I was a kid a lot of great music passed me by because I was too much of a music snob (ie. ASSHOLE) to give it a chance. The reasons could be silly, something could be TOO popular, or threaten the popularity of something I liked. It could be too radically different from something I enjoyed, or not different enough. It could be too trendy, or way too underground. Looking back, the reasons were never all that smart or well thought out. If you enjoy something, you don’t need to explain it. You don’t need a reason, THE ENJOYMENT IS THE REASON. 

Something Old, Something New Album Review
(That’s me in my old band from back in ‘03) 
 
The musical tastes of my wife and I don’t fully intersect. It’s like one of those Venn diagrams with the overlapping circle in the middle filled with mostly classic rock. There’s also some old school country music and maybe a light smattering of heavy metal in there. One of the great things about our relationship is that mostly, even if it isn’t a completely shared interest, or in the case of music, the other will give it a fair shot. It does have it’s limitations. Music wise with me it’s “new”(pop) Country and with her it’s any Heavy Metal that’s heavier than Metallica’s Black album. Some journeys we take together, and Adele has been an artist where we’ve shared a common curiosity. 
Something Old, Something New Album Review
Adele is a very smart artist in multiple ways. Mainly, her albums are personal. Looking at her discography, you can tell that right away as the titles of all four of her albums are her age when they were recorded/released(19, 21, 25, and the newest, 30). If you’ve been with her from her early material, you feel like you have grown with her, if you haven’t, it’s like you’re almost reading the chapters of an autobiography. One of the other reasons, her last couple albums have come out right before Christmas, so I’ve gotten each one for my wife as a gift since “21”. And that’s where we’ll start. 
 

Something Old 

Adele – 21 
 
2011 Columbia Records 
 
Rating: 4.5/5 
 
In all honesty, due to her massive success and popularity, the OLD me would have detested her right out of the gate. In fact, in 2011, I still was the old me in that way. But in the thick of manufactured Pop stars and starlets that look great in a music video and on an album cover, but have very little actual talent, Adele was a force that you just couldn’t deny. Her debut album “19” was released originally on an indie label in her home country in Great Britain and while it sold okay, it set up modest expectations for her sophomore album. Released in Europe in January of 2011 and in North America in February, it was a grower of an album that very slowly picked up steam. By the summertime however, you couldn’t escape the massive hit lead off single “Rolling In The Deep”. Adele has a gigantic voice with tone and character that’s off the charts. At the time, in recent memory there had only been one singer that could come close to h

The album “21” came from a place of inspiration common to many songwriters; heartbreak. When album writing sessions commenced, Adele was in a relationship and happy, and apparently had writers block, and the sessions ended. Shortly after however, that relationship ended and now having new inspiration, “21” was born. The album itself almost has an understated “low fi” instrumental sound to it. No, I don’t mean it sounds like the White Stripes, but the production isn’t “lush”. Adele has such a versatile voice that she is able to apply it to various styles of music and production and since the material was quite somber in nature, the production reflected that. It had a “dark and cloudy” feel, and her voice was able to match that. With elements of R&B, Pop and Soul, it was unlike anything on the radio or in popular culture at the time and struck a chord with the record buying public. The album itself spawned multiple hit singles including the aforementioned “Rolling In The Deep”, as well as “Someone Like You”, “Set Fire To The Rain” and “Rumour Has It”. The album itself was so massive that it wasn’t only the worlds top selling album for it’s year of release in 2011, but it was also the top selling album in the world in 2012 as well. With 31 million copies sold, it’s the top selling album of the 21st Century and the 19th best selling album of all time. The album(along with it’s follow up 25) is credited for basically keeping the record industry afloat with it’s massive sale of physical copies in a time when music has increasingly become streamed or sold digitally. 

Something Old, Something New Album Review
Something New
 
Adele – 30
 
2021 Columbia Records 
 
Rating: 4/5 
 
As with tradition, I bought this for my wife for Christmas (as I did with Adele’s “Live at Albert Hall” and “25”). This time however, instead of buying it on CD for her, I decided to buy it on Vinyl for her. If I hadn’t mentioned in any of these articles before, I am a vinyl collector. I have been a collector since about 2009/2010. No, I am not one of those people that has a Crosley suitcase player and 5-10 records on display in my living room as a conversation piece. And although that probably came across in a very snarky manner, I really don’t mean it that way. Everyone starts somewhere. Whether it progresses further than that is none of my concern, everyone is allowed to enjoy music however they want, even if it is more of an art piece than a functional hobby. I am however, a serious collector and listener. I have spent 10+ years, various trade in’s, trade up’s, deal hawking and honestly just some old fashioned good luck building a pretty fantastic Hi Fi system for music if I do say so myself (and I do). I collect music on Vinyl, Cassette and CD, and have nice gear for all 3 (as nice as you can have for a Cassette player), but my passion is vinyl. My nicest singular piece of gear is my Rega P3 turntable, which goes very nicely with my collection of records that is now over 1000+ and spawning multiple genres. So in that sense yes, I am STILL a music snob. Music is my getaway from the stresses of life, and I mostly want to listen to it at the highest audio fidelity possible (cassettes are just cheap and fun, and easier to find rarities, don’t judge me). At some time if you guys are interested, I’ll do a breakdown of my system and why I’m such a fan of vinyl. But back to Adele. 
 
Something Old, Something New Album Review
(You can see some of my collection behind me here)
 
Adele, probably unbeknownst to her as by all accounts she is a very down to earth and cool person, has created quite a stir in the vinyl community. For a long time vinyl was a dead format. Really since the early 90’s. Most albums, unless requested by the artists (which wasn’t many, and you had to have pull, like Metallica) were not produced on vinyl anymore as it had fallen out of favor with the record buying public with the advent of the Compact Disc. Because of this, most record pressing plants in the United States, and the world closed down with their record pressing machines shuttered, abandoned, sold for scrap, or stored in warehouses for parts as they were not being made anymore. But there was a small army that had never given up on the format. And also genres of music that never gave up on it either. Punk rock and Hardcore albums were just about always pressed on limited amounts of vinyl. Slowly, people like me discovered the format, and impressed with the fidelity, the collecting element, and the seemingly endless amount of cheap quality vinyl available started the vinyl revival. Over the last couple years vinyl sales have overtaken CD’s again as the dominant physical media, and they unfortunately aren’t cheap anymore, new or used. But this is also proving a problem as all those pressing plants had shut down, and while a few new ones had opened and new machines are finally being made, there are still not enough pressing plants to meet the exponential growth of vinyl over the last few years. This years Christmas holidays have put a wrench in many artists plans. With big record companies wanting LOTS of copies of new albums from Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Adele available for Christmas presents, they had the pull to commandeer pressing plants to press their records.  While smaller orders from indie labels and bands that don’t have the sales of those artists were put on hold. Wait times for vinyl pressings are reportedly a year out. Of those artists, Adele’s label Columbia reportedly had the largest order of 500,000 units. While CD sales stagnate and even with extras, Adele’s new album may cost under $20 on that format, but the double vinyl edition of 30 retails at $50. So it’s obvious why they want those numbers out there, especially if they sell. This made quite a few of us angry waiting for new records from our favorite bands, or long awaited small batch reissues. But unlike others, I can’t blame Adele. Hey, that’s capitalism. If she can sell that much vinyl, maybe it will prompt investment, and new pressing plants will open. Anyway, on to the album…. 
Something Old, Something New Album Review
(A new 50,000 sq ft vinyl pressing plant in Virginia)
 
The album “30”, much like “21”, lyrically is based on themes of heartbreak as since the aforementioned album, she has been married, divorced and become a mother. While her previous album “25” was again met with critical praise, there was chatter about her playing it safe. The production and overall album feel was similar to “21”. She must have taken those criticisms to heart as she made some fairly significant stylistic changes along the way. While the production of “21” and “25” were subdued, the production of “30” is what I would call “lush”, with clarity and orchestration not really heard, or at least to this extent on previous records. On this record Adele mixes her traditional elements of R&B and Soul with a touch of Jazz, and her voice, it just makes it WORK. I honestly believe she could sing over rabid dogs kicking over trashcans looking for food scraps and make it somehow work musically. On this record, while I wouldn’t have thought it possible, Adele takes her level of introspection to whole new levels, most notable on the lead single “Easy On Me”. However, it does also make for one of the more awkward moments on the record in a track called “My Little Love” in which Adele talks to her son about the divorce over a beat. For me, that’s a little TOO personal. I’ve heard various things about this album. Critics have mostly raved about it, while some long time fans and “purists” have called it “self indulgent trite”. I personally don’t get the latter criticism. All of her albums have been very personal, which to me skews how much you can call someone “self indulgent”. Maybe it was the stylistic changes that prompted this, but I don’t know. True artists need to grow, and I don’t fault her for the changes in the music, because in my personal opinion with that voice, she can handle it, and she did masterfully.

This was a really long one as I was hopped up on refined sugars and caffeine, so if you got through it, thank you! Much appreciated. If you want to see/read more of my musical snobbery and see some of my record collection, check me out on Instagram @SteveDestruct

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