Here’s how Adele opens this particular heartbreak adagio: “I heard that you’re settled down, that you found a girl and you’re married now.” It gets worse from there. The slow, mournful piano figure underneath the track never changes or quickens or flattens out, but it’s all the company Adele gets here; no other instruments show up on the song. So the piano is the quiet little skeleton that turns out to be all the song needs. With it, we get Adele’s furious tornado of a voice, an instrument that here, heard in its undiluted form, absolutely blasts away the Amy Winehouse comparisons that, early in Adele’s career, came too often.

And once you get past the insane power of that voice, there’s still more meat there. Because as theatrically heartbroken as Adele sounds on this song, the lyrics still offer the sense that we’re dealing with mature adult emotions here; it’s not a woe-is-me tantrum. Throughout, she also wishes her ex well, calling him “old friend” and never demanding to know what the new girl has that she didn’t. She doesn’t have to ask; the question hangs there in the air anyway. She’s got her face forward, or anyway she puts on a good show of it: “Never mind, I’ll find someone like you”– like she can will a better reality into being just by wailing it. Sometimes, pop music can still break your heart. – Tom Breihan

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~ by crossmd on April 12, 2011.

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