She’s not going easy on us. After the “30” billboard campaign and a teaser for forthcoming single “Easy on Me,” Adele season is now here in full force, with the singer-songwriter gracing the covers of Vogue and British Vogue concurrently. Two covers means not one but two interviews, giving the notoriously chatty musician ample space to spill tea about her fourth album — between waxing on her love for Whispering Angel rosé (“Whispering Angel turned me into a barking dog. It did not make me whisper”) and giving us crumbs about her relationship with sports agent Rich Paul (when she first met him, she drunkenly asked, “Do you want to sign me? I’m an athlete now”).
And spill she did! Adele dug into how her divorce from Simon Konecki and her relationship to their son, Angelo, impacted her new album, and she played a number of songs for the lucky writers, too. (Still, though, she hasn’t confirmed a title or release date. In time.) Here’s everything we now know about Adele’s return.
Don’t call it a divorce album.
The world knows Adele for alternately mournful and fiery breakup music, putting the weight of expectation on her new album, which comes after her high-profile divorce. But speaking to Vogue, Adele was reluctant to call the record a divorce album. “It was more me divorcing myself,” she said. She saw her divorce as part of her larger Saturn-return period, which “can rock your life,” she added, and said the midlife astrological event set her on a post-split “journey to find my true happiness.” She went on to tease a resulting change in perspective on the album. “All the other albums are like, You did this! You did that! Fuck you! Why can’t you arrive for me?” she said. “Then I was like: Oh, shit, I’m the running theme, actually. Maybe it’s me!”
British Vogue’s Giles Hattersley says the new songs “all sound pretty divorce-y to me,” but Adele insisted to him that her divorce was amicable — Konecki lives in a house she bought across the street from her own, and they have regular movie nights together with Angelo, now 9.
News of Adele’s divorce emerged in 2019, when the singer was 31, but if her recent billboard campaign is to be believed, this new album is called 30. So how did the divorce factor in? Adele told British Vogue that she actually split from Konecki some time earlier than reported — and that, also contrary to speculation, the pair didn’t get married until 2018. “We got married when I was 30 … and then I left,” she said. Their marriage “wasn’t very long,” she added, which felt “very embarrassing.” In short: “When I was 30, my entire life fell apart and I had no warning of it,” Adele said.
She wrote the album for Angelo.
Instead of using it to air divorce grievances, Adele described the album as an account of the separation for her son. “I just felt like I wanted to explain to him, through this record, when he’s in his 20s or 20s, who I am and why I voluntarily chose to dismantle his entire life in the pursuit of my own happiness,” she told British Vogue.
She said Angelo prompted the upcoming first single, “Easy on Me,” back in 2018, along with another song that came months after. “He said to my face, Can you see me? And I was like, Uh, yeah. And he was like, Cause I can’t see you. Well, my whole life fell apart in that moment,” she told Vogue. She recorded a song the following day, dedicated to him. “My little love,” she reportedly sings, “I see your eyes / Widen like an ocean / When you look at me / So full of my emotions.” According to Vogue, the song has a “sexy ’70s groove” reminiscent of Marvin Gaye, and Adele said What’s Going On? was a reference point for the album. The song includes part of a conversation she had with Angelo about her divorce, which she recorded at her therapist’s recommendation to cope with her anxiety.
Oh, and as for Angelo? He’s currently a big Taylor Swift fan and wants to become a YouTuber.
“Easy on Me” is classic Adele.
Vogue refers to Adele’s upcoming single as “a gut-wrenching plea of a piano ballad” — in other words, precisely the fare we’re all expecting. Per the magazine, the chorus goes, “Go easy on me baby / I was still a child / Didn’t get the chance to / Feel the world around me.” British Vogue adds that the “moving” song touches on Adele’s divorce as well as her childhood. Adele wrote the song in 2018 after a shower-singing session. “I didn’t write anything else for six months after because I was like, ‘Okay, well, I’ve said it all,’” Adele told British Vogue. And that singing? “I’m not sure she’s ever been in finer voice,” Hattersley says.
The album is Adele’s most varied yet.
British Vogue says Adele “has never been more eclectic” than on her new project, which ranges “from her usual singer-songwriter gear to midnight chanteuse to chilled Balearic club at sundown.” Vogue teases one new song as “a soulful promise of new love,” another as “downright upbeat, meant to be a laugh-while-you’re-crying respite from the heaviness,” and a third as “a joyous anthem” with an organ and a choir of friends. For that song, Adele said she specifically tapped her friends to repeat “Just hold on,” because that’s what they would tell her. (A dispatch from one of these friends, the writer Jedidiah Jenkins, to the magazine: “She quickly became a choir director, waving her hands and giving us the motivation of our words. And of course, calling me out: Jed, it’s not your album. Blend in more.”) One song, British Vogue says, has “shades of Goldfrapp,” built from Adele’s “voice sampled and resampled over a hypnotic beat.” Adele described that song as “destruction,” adding, “It’s me going out and getting drunk at a bar. Drinking liquor.”
Just don’t expect another “Hello” from the new album. “I don’t want another song like that,” she told Vogue. “That song catapulted me in fame to another level that I don’t want to happen again.”
The seven-minute closing song was inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s and recalls Judy Garland.
Yes, you read that all right! Adele recorded the song with the iconic film playing in the studio and decided to “write it as if we were writing the soundtrack,” she told Vogue. The resulting song “is whimsical and wall-of-sound retro, full of strings and vibrato and midcentury romance,” according to the magazine. By British Vogue’s assessment, it’s a “jazzy, campy, swooning delight” that sounds like Judy Garland and has “a vocal for the ages.”
She worked with old collaborators and brought new ones into the fold.
The magazines report that Adele reteamed with Greg Kurstin, co-architect of 25 hits “Hello” and “Water Under the Bridge,” on “Easy on Me” and dedicated the song to Angelo. She also reteamed with pop giants Max Martin and Shellback (“Send My Love”) and singer-songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. (“When We Were Young”); her song with Jesso is “an Édith Piaf–y moment,” she told Vogue. One of her most prominent new collaborators is Inflo, a producer who works with rapper Little Simz and soul collective Sault, who helmed the choir song and the closer. (“He’s sort of got this constant resting bitch face, really,” she told Vogue.) She also worked with Ludwig Göransson, a Grammy winner for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” and Oscar winner for the score to Black Panther.
The album features voice notes from other musicians — including Adele’s possible ex Skepta.
British Vogue confirms that the new album, like Adele’s others, doesn’t have any featured artists, dashing rumored Taylor Swift and Beyoncé collaborations. But the album does tap some of Adele’s musician friends for voice note interludes, Vogue reports, including Tyler, the Creator (the two have long admired each other) and Skepta. That’s right — the British rapper who at one point last year was rumored to be dating Adele. She didn’t comment on their relationship, but the two do have a history of friendship that goes far back. “I thought it might be a nice touch,” Adele told Vogue of the voice notes, “seeing as everyone’s been at my door for the last ten years, as a fan, to be like, Would you like to come in?”
She played the album for her father before he died.
Adele’s relationship with her father, Mark Evans, has long been a hot tabloid topic, given that he allegedly sold interviews about his daughter to gossip publications. Yet before he died this year, Adele said she patched things up with him. “I found the peace to forgive him,” she told British Vogue. And a week before his death from cancer in May, she added, she played him her new album on a video call.
The reason she once said her album was coming in September 2020 is she was drunk.
Of course! Video emerged in February 2020 of Adele telling a guest at a friend’s wedding to “expect my album in September.” Explaining the confusion now, she told British Vogue, “I was wasted.”