Adele’s new single, “Easy on Me,” turns out to be ballsy in at least a couple of different ways. First and foremost: When she issued that 40-second preview earlier this week, and you were wondering what it would sound like when it leaped from a solo piano arrangement to something grander in the chorus after the teaser verse? Now we know: It’s Adele and just a piano from beginning to end. Take that, Rhythmic Top 40 formats! (And because it’s Adele, they probably will.)
Secondly, it’s Adele taking responsibility. This is not the mostly aggrieved Adele of “21”… it’s an Adele who knows she may have been the aggriev-or. Greg Kurstin again collaborated on the song, which has a little bit of the flavor of “Hello,” as Adele reconnects with someone she’s apparently been apart from for a while — but in a mode of explaining this time, not beseeching. “I was still a child,” she explains in the chorus. “I had no chance to choose what I chose to do… so go easy on me.”
The singer has indicated in her interviews for the upcoming “30” album that her divorce did not come about as a result of feeling deeply done wrong as much as a sense of needing to move on from something that just wasn’t working, so anyone looking for autobiography in the song (and historically, there’s been plenty) may read this as a plea to have her own motives understood, not to assign blame. And that’s a more complex set of feelings to sort out in a song than some of her more accusatory early songs… but, we’d suspect, maybe just as heartrending once the tune has more time to sink in.
But she doesn’t mean to leave on a downer note. The opening scene before the song kicks in is nearly chipper, with the singer trying to make a connection on the phone before she takes off, having just cleared out a house. It’s even lighter at the end, with Adele breaking the mood with a hearty laugh as the fourth wall is broken and the audience sees she’s being subjected to a wind machine, not real gale-force seaside winds.
The video was shot last month in Quebec and has her collaborating with director Xavier Dolan. If the scene of her having a bad phone connection suggests a loose tie-in with “Hello,” the new video begins in the same house featured in that video.
Anticipation for the single was high enough that, just on YouTube, 100,000 people were logged onto her page, awaiting the opening notes of the video, just before the song premiered.
While most singles come out at midnight east coast time and 9 p.m. PT, Adele proved herself a Londoner first and foremost by releasing the new single at midnight U.K. time, ensuring that Americans had plenty of time to explore any emotions the song brought up before bedtime.
Adele has been teasing the song in dribs and drabs, first releasing just the instrumental lead-in, then going so far as to post a 40-second preview on her Instagram Live five days ago, cutting it off just as the chorus was to kick in.