Release date: Jan. 19, 2011
Photography: Lauren Dukoff
Album design: Adele, Phil Lee
Label: XL

Adele's mythology as an artist comes with a lot of heartbreak. There's that storied guy who broke her heart, lingering somewhere in the back of her mind and at the forefront of her songs. But that's giving too little credit to the resilience of the singer, who seems—at least in her songs and on her album cover—to get over her despair by pensive, rational thought. Beyond the mere severity and drama of this photo, it is technically perfectly executed in classic album cover fashion—nothing is crowded, the lighting is perfect, and Adele looks flawless. And yet, there's that weightlessness to the way Adele scratches her head, as if this is all just a passing thought in the journey to the next chapter. —Dale Eisinger