Well, we expected a ballad and we got a ballad. Adele’s new single, “Easy On Me”, her first song in six years and the lead track off her upcoming album 30, due out November 19, dropped last night – and as she revealed in her double Vogue interviews, she’s put the pain and loss and self-discovery she’s experienced over the last few years into the music. As it often is with Adele’s music, people are now connecting their pain and loss and their hope for self-discovery to hers. So there’s been a lot of crying. When we were texting back and forth about it after the song dropped, our site manager Emily wrote that, “I’m desperate to see her in concert again and cry for three hours”.
The “Easy On Me” music video was directed by Xavier Dolan, who also directed Adele in the video for “Hello”. The connection is not subtle. Both videos were shot at the same location in Quebec. The first video is an arrival, and the new video is a departure …and a beginning.
On working with Adele again, Xavier said in a press release that:
“For me, there’s nothing stronger than artists reconnecting after years apart. I’ve changed. Adele’s changed. And this is an opportunity to celebrate how we’ve both evolved, and how we’ve also both remained faithful to our dearest themes. It’s all the same, but different.”
The same, but different is exactly what we’re hearing with this Adele comeback. Same, but different applies to the video, the setting, and where the story has taken us. Same but different applies to the release: Adele lives in LA now but she is British, which is why “Easy On Me” was released at midnight today, October 15, in the UK, so it was still October 14 in North America. Same, but different is her appearance too. We all know where the “different” comes in but there’s the famous black liquid eyeliner, and the bouncy honey-toned hair, and those nails, and even how she’s styled – the same. The woman in “Hello” and the woman in “Easy on Me”, she is recognisable, she has been through some sh-t, but she is still that person. And she sounds like that person.
Same, but different – of course this is an Adele song, with all the Adele characteristics: the balladry, her voice, the schmaltziness with the hand gestures and the Big Note Moments…only this time she’s not singing about someone breaking her heart, she’s singing about breaking someone else’s heart, and her own in the process. That’s not just her ex-husband, but also her son. As she shared with Vogue, her son had a hard time with the divorce. So these lyrics can go in multiple directions: to her ex-husband, to her child, but also to herself. The same, but different. As Xavier said, Adele has evolved and Adele has “remained faithful” to her “dearest themes”.
And as Adele said, in Vogue:
“It’s sensitive for me, this record, just in how much I love it. I always say that 21 doesn’t belong to me anymore. Everyone else took it into their hearts so much. I’m not letting go of this one. This is my album. I want to share myself with everyone, but I don’t think I’ll ever let this one go.”
So to those who were hoping that Adele’s new era would be like, I dunno, disco…
I get that we talk a lot about an artist’s growth, and doing new things, but artists first have to meet themselves where they are. If this is the album that is the most personal to Adele where she is right now, she’s the one who has to find the “same” in the “different” first, and in many ways, that requires a lot more growth than scratch-jumping right into unfamiliar territory. There will be time for disco and club beats on the next album.