May 18, 2022

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Adele on Her New Album, Anxiety & Workout Routine: Vogue’s November 2021 Cover Issue

She also started going to the studio. She wrote a song for Angelo the day after he told her he couldn’t see her. Over time, the album became a way of explaining things to him—something for him to listen to when he’s older. “He has so many simple questions for me that I can’t answer, because I don’t know the answer. Like, Why can’t we still live together? That’s just not what people do when they get divorced. But why not? I’m like, I don’t fucking know. That’s not what society does. And: Why don’t you love my dad anymore? And I’d be like, I do love your dad. I’m just not in love. I can’t make that make sense to a nine-year-old.”

For this and other reasons, the new album is different from her previous albums. “I realized that I was the problem,” Adele says. “Cause all the other albums are like, You did this! You did that! Fuck you! Why can’t you arrive for me? Then I was like: Oh, shit, I’m the running theme, actually. Maybe it’s me!

I ask if she revisited any iconic divorce albums in the process of writing hers—I am thinking of Sinéad O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got—and Adele responds that she didn’t know she was making a divorce album. She’s not sure it is one, in fact. “He’s not one of my exes. He’s the dad of my child.” If the new album is a divorce album, it’s a different kind of divorce album. “It was more me divorcing myself,” she says, exploding into a laugh that sounds like a balloon buzzing around a room as it deflates. “Just being like, Bitch, fuckin’ hot mess, get your fuckin’ shit together!

“It’s sensitive for me, this record, just in how much I love it,” Adele adds. “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.”

To be around civilian Adele is to forget that she is also that other Adele, the singer of soul-baring torch songs. Civilian Adele is a cutup, relentlessly self-effacing, and always taking the piss out of herself. We know from her music that the other Adele swims below the photic zone.

I catch a glimpse of the other one when her new songs are playing aloud in her sea-green kitchen. Seated on a stool, she leans back, her chest retreats inward, her head hangs down, and her whole torso rocks while her eyelids flutter, as though she is in a trance. It is difficult to describe the emotional intensity of this body language, but the words rolling in the deep come to mind.

The first song she plays is the first song on the album, a gut-wrenching plea of a piano ballad, the chorus of which goes: “Go easy on me baby / I was still a child / Didn’t get the chance to / Feel the world around me.” Her voice does different impossible Adele-ish things with the refrain “go easy,” and although it starts to take on a euphoric tone, by the end, I feel pummeled. “So that’s that one,” she says quietly. “Do you like it?” (Perhaps the only thing more surreal than having Adele play you her new music in her kitchen is the revelation that she feels nervous and vulnerable doing so.)

She queues up another one. “The next song is the one I wrote when I went to the studio the day after Angelo said I can’t see you.” A certain combination of elements—sexy ’70s groove, heavy strings, heavier lyrics—immediately calls to mind Marvin Gaye. (What’s Going On was a “very big reference” on the album, turns out.) “My little love,” Adele sings in a low, smoky register. “I see your eyes / Widen like an ocean / When you look at me / So full of my emotions.” Between verses are snippets of conversations she had with Angelo during the Year of Anxiety, recorded at her therapist’s suggestion. The song ends with bits of a raw, teary voicemail she left for a friend. She was inspired to incorporate voice notes by Tyler, the Creator and the British rapper Skepta, she explains. “I thought it might be a nice touch, seeing as everyone’s been at my door for the last 10 years, as a fan, to be like, Would you like to come in?

https://www.vogue.com/article/adele-cover-november-2021