New music: Adele, Enya, Bocelli, Kylie Minogue

Bill Lamb, Contributing writer

Adele :: ‘25’

On this more-than-worthy follow-up to 21 — now considered the fastest-selling album in music history — Adele moves forward emotionally and artistically. No longer clawing her way through the wreckage of a love affair gone wrong, she is looking back on her life after four years with strength and nostalgia. Adele’s powerful vocals remain a wonder, but what makes 25 work is all of these songs are worth hearing alone and as part of a full album. With each listen, the songs cut deeper. Standouts include lead single “Hello,” the deep gospel sway of “River Lea” and the moving piano ballad “All I Ask.” 25 has effortlessly swept aside any competition for the title of Pop Album of the Year. 

Enya :: ‘Dark Sky Island’

Enya’s eighth studio album, Dark Sky Island, kicks off with the track “The Humming…”, which will remind fans of the grandeur of “Caribbean Blue” and “Only Time.” The album’s title was inspired by the naming of British island Sark as the world’s first “Dark Sky Island,” a sanctuary for astronomical observation free of light pollution. This album feels equally unpolluted, a return to the austere beauty of early albums Watermark and Shepherd Moons. The title track in particular has a gentle, building power piling layers of instrumentation and vocals to create something both airy and dense. However, Enya does explore some new directions — check out the percussive track “Even in the Shadows.”

Andrea Bocelli :: ‘Cinema’

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is one of the world’s top-selling recording artists and his My Christmas album is one of the bestselling holiday records of all time. His latest release digs deep into classic movie songs. There are few big surprises, but the performances are assured and arrangements immaculate. With a nod to contemporary pop, he is joined by Ariana Grande on “E piu ti penso” from Once Upon a Time In America and sings “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” in Spanish with Nicole Scherzinger. This is an album tailor-made as an easy-listening collection of melodies most everyone knows.

Kylie Minogue :: ‘Kylie Christmas’

Twenty-seven years into her career, this is Australian pop superstar Kylie Minogue’s first Christmas album and it’s exactly what long-term fans would expect. Christmas classics like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Winter Wonderland” are big and breezy. A bright, snappy version of the Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” includes a cameo by Iggy Pop. Through the wonders of technology, she duets with Frank Sinatra on “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” She turns in her own saucy spin on “Santa Baby” and ends with an emotional interpretation of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” that deftly avoids being maudlin.