Easy On Me, a spare and touching piano ballad, was released at midnight UK time, presenting to fans the first glimpse of her “divorce album”, entitled 30.
That will be her continuation to massively successful albums 19, 21 and 25.
Easy On Me sees Adele describing her resolution to walk away from her marriage in 2019, at the same time asking her son and ex-husband for understanding.
“I changed who I was to put you both first,” she sings, “but now I give up”.
That moment, so bare and unvarnished, sends trembling down your spine.
Adele’s voice is full of remorse, but also determine.
In the provided music video, director Xavier Dolan selected this moment for transition from black and white to full colour – obviously explaining that this is the sound of a woman who has pull apart her entire world, understanding that she needn’t feel guilty for putting herself first.
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Adele communicate the chorus, “go easy on me”, to herself as well as her family – and she understands it’s too soon for them to see her point of view.
“I had good intentions / And the highest hopes / But I know, right now / It probably doesn’t even show.”
The song was clearly the first track written for Adele’s coming album, and dates back to the year of her uncoupling. The immediacy of those emotions shows clearly in her vocal, at the same time strong and endangered.
However there’s also a magnanimity to the song. Adele is reaching out to the people she offended, but ‘Easy On Me’ is also a big woolly blanket wrapped around the loneliness and pain of anyone who’s been through a core-shaking break-up.
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Fans around the world stayed to hear ‘Easy On Me’ as soon as it premiered – with 299,000 people viewing its debut live on YouTube.
It comes five weeks before her new album – which was first mocked in a global marketing drive that saw the number 30 caste on to buildings and billboards in Brazil, Mexico, Dubai, Italy, Germany, Ireland, the US and the UK.
Fans rightly estimated the release date of 19 November when Taylor Swift moved her coming album forward by a week, obviously to avoid a clash with Adele.
Just like her three previous albums the title points to a specific age in Adele’s life.
She married her long-term partner at age thirty, Simon Konecki, and then abandoned him.
The music star has said that the album was recorded to help her nine-year-old son understand their split the following year.
“I wanted to explain to him through this record, when he’s in his 20s or 30s, who I am and why I voluntarily chose to dismantle his entire life in
the pursuit of my own happiness,”
she told Vogue magazine.
“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,” she added.
Speaking to BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball, the singer admitted the album
“was bloody hard work to make”.
“I was singing things I didn’t even realise I was feeling or thinking,”
she said, adding that it was important for her to share those emotions with the world.
“I feel like I can’t unlock a door for my own mental health and take the key with me. I’ve got to leave it in the door for everyone else – and I’m in a strong place now where I feel like I can put that vulnerability out.
"I'm in a strong place now where I feel like I can put that vulnerability out."
@adele is BACK and chats to @zoetheball about the journey she's been through behind her new album ❤️
Listen live this Friday morning, from 8.10am on @bbcsounds ✨ pic.twitter.com/9tKw2py2GO
— BBC Radio 2 (@BBCRadio2) October 15, 2021
In another interview with BBC Radio 1’s Greg James, she said that her friends hadn’t been too satisfied by ‘Easy On Me’ when she played them the demo.
“I sent a snippet of it, as I was writing it, to three of my closest friends,” she said.
“One didn’t like it, one was like, ‘keep trying’, and the other similarly was like, ‘I’m busy working’. So that was the exact response.”
BBC Sounds: Adele on Radio 1
Once it was done, however,
“they loved it”.
“And I don’t do any music in my time off. It’s not a muscle that I exercise – writing or singing,” she added.
“So most of the time, even just for my best friends and my manager, their first reaction, no matter what the song is, is, ‘it’s just nice to hear you sing’.”
While ‘Easy On Me’ is very much a traditional Adele ballad, there have been indications that the rest of the album will exhibit a more innovative side to Adele’s music.
As stated by Vogue, one track promote her vocals
“sampled and resampled over a hypnotic beat”,
that is similar to electro-pop act Goldfrapp.
She has also worked with London-based producer Inflo – in charge of the retro R&B sounds of Michael Kiwanuka and Little Simz – all so with the Oscar-winning composer of the Black Panther score, Ludwig Göransson.
Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley, who has played a handful of the songs, declared that there are “all kinds” of sounds and genres on the album.
“There’s one that I listened to and it just made me feel incredibly sad,” she added.
“She really does pour her heart out and her voice, I think, has never sounded better.
“I was really surprised by the heights that she reaches – and the power and the resonance within her voice is amazing.”
Meanwhile the music world has been reacting to Adele’s forthcoming return, with Canadian star Drake notifying his Instagram users to the fact that “one of my best friends in the world just dropped a single”.
Solo star and former Fifth Harmony member Normani said:
“Adele oh Adele I love uuuuuuuu.”
Elsewhere, ignorant film star Alicia Silver-stone publicized a humorous video on TikTok of her getting ready to drown her sorrows while listening the London singer’s latest heartfelt offering.
— Alicia Silverstone (@AliciaSilv) October 15, 2021
But it sounds, 30 is sure to be a shot in the arm for the UK music industry.
Just one British album released since the start of 2020, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, has sold the 300,000 copies enough to be awarded a platinum disc.
It took her 10 months to attain that feat. Contrary, Adele’s last album, 25, went platinum in its first 24 hours.
It later became the UK’s 14th best-selling album of all time, with sales in excess of 3.6 million.
Her new record label, Sony, will be hoping to match those sorts of sales heights – despite fact that the CD market has declined hastily and without careful consideration since 2015; and Adele’s streaming numbers don’t yet match those of her peers.
She still has 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify, set side by side Ed Sheeran’s 75 million and Taylor Swift’s 46.5 million.
New music will surely boost those figures, Yet, even if Adele faces hard competition from Sheeran, Swift, Abba and Coldplay, who will all release new material in the coming weeks.
Chief executive of the Official Charts Company, Martin Talbot, outlined the pile-up as an “embarrassment of riches” that is almost unequaled for the music retail sector – but he foretasted that Adele would emerge on top.
“It would be a brave man who predicted anything other than 30 being the biggest album of this Christmas,” he told the BBC.
“And, with certifications now also reflecting streams, as well as traditional physical and download sales, it is in with a strong chance of going platinum in its first week.”