Adele review, ‘Easy On Me’: The world’s finest chronicler of heartbreak returns with exposed wounds

Polished but never to the point of soullessness, ‘Easy On Me’ is a crisp, plaintive and mature comeback

Alexandra Pollard
Friday 15 October 2021 18:08
Comments
Adele teases her new single on Instagram Live
Leer en Español

Falling slowly and undramatically out of love with the father of your child, breaking up amicably, and buying him a house across the street from you is hardly standard fodder for a break-up ballad. But Adele has never really gone in for broad-strokes emotions. On “Easy On Me”, her first single in six years, the world’s finest chronicler of heartbreak is neither victim nor villain; instead, she addresses her nine-year-old son, attempting to explain to him why she chose to take apart the life he knew.

“Go easy on me, baby,” sings the 33-year-old in that big, raspy voice – it feels good to have it back – over an elegiac piano redolent of Taylor Swift and Justin Vernon’s in “Exile”. “I was still a child/ Didn’t get the chance to feel the world around me.”

“I just felt like I wanted to explain to [my son], through this record, when he’s in his twenties or thirties, who I am and why I voluntarily chose to dismantle his entire life in the pursuit of my own happiness,” explained the singer, who filed for divorce from her husband Simon Konecki in 2019, in a recent interview with Vogue. “It made him really unhappy sometimes. And that’s a real wound for me that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to heal.”

“Easy On Me” is an exposed wound in itself. It is among the singer’s most musically complex, too. Adele warned that her forthcoming album 30 – she has reneged on her vow to stop naming records after her age – would have no equivalent to “Hello”, the bombastic, chart-topping, record-smashing lead single from 2015’s 25. Certainly, the chorus here doesn’t have a melody to grab onto in the way that song did, its notes flitting like a skimmed pebble – but it is no less of a punch to the solar plexus. Produced by Greg Kurstin, with whom she worked on “Hello” (both music videos were directed by Xavier Dolan, too), it has the same crispness as that previous collaboration, the same plaintive tone – it’s just a little more elaborate. Dare I say mature?

By the way, anyone concerned that Adele’s new LA lifestyle had sucked the London out of her will be pleased to hear the distinct “f” sound at the start of the word “things”. Her songs are always polished but never to the point of soullessness. “I never redo my vocals. Never. Never ever,” she recently insisted – and with a voice like that, why would she?

Adele realised something writing this new music: “I was the problem. ’Cause all the other albums are like, ‘You did this! You did that! F*** you! Why can’t you arrive for me?’ Then I was like: ‘Oh, s***, I’m the running theme, actually. Maybe it’s me!’” If this is the soundtrack to that epiphany, sign me up.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in