Adele's new album '30' will be released next month. Photo / Supplied

Adele's Deeply Felt Ballad 'Easy On Me' Returns To The Essence Of Music-Making

The newest single from the voice that digs deepest into the soul of the world

After listening to Adele lay her soul on the line, I am inclined to go very easy on her.

It is a bold comeback single from the biggest selling contemporary music artist in the world, because she dares to just do what she does best, eschewing fashion, trends, and all music business marketing logic to deliver a bare-bones ballad with all the feeling she can muster. Easy on Me is as stripped down as a song can be, just a vocal and piano in close communion.

It is not up to me to say whether this is a good move or a bad move. I’m sure there are record company executives all over the world holding their breath and praying that it works, and privately wondering if they would have been better off adding orchestras, beats and guest rappers.

After the long, bare 18 months of pandemic, the return of 33-year-old songbird Adele Adkins is expected to save the music business by delivering the first unstoppable, unassailable multi-billion-streaming, multi-million-selling, bulletproof blockbuster smash of our post-Covid world. And she gives them a bare-bones ballad, performed in a style that practically predates recorded music history.

There is nothing to go on here but a song and a singer delivering a deeply felt emotional truth, right from the heart. But isn’t that the very essence of what music is, and why it means so much to us?

So, eschewing the clever lyrical tease (“Hello, it’s me”) and sleekly effective ever-building power ballad production of Adele’s last big comeback single – 2015’s global super smash hit Hello – this time around she has gone right back to basics.

Easy on Me showcases the recently divorced singer pleading for understanding and forgiveness from her ex, set to flowing but unostentatious piano accompaniment. It is, effectively, a huge, abject, shame and excuse filled apology, with the chorus pleading “Go easy on me baby / I was still a child / Didn’t get the chance to feel / The world around me / I had no time to choose what I chose to do / So go easy on me.”

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Honestly, if I was the person she had romanced, married, had a child with and then ditched because (as she put it in her recent navel-gazing Vogue interviews) “it just wasn’t right for me anymore”, then I really don’t know how I would feel about her special pleading.

Adele lays the water metaphors on thick in an opening verse in which she’s been looking in vain for gold in a river where she’s been simultaneously washing her hands, failing to swim and drowning in silence. It leaves me wondering whether she really needs the help of a marriage guidance counselor or a poetry professor.

But the singing is the thing. Why do some voices reach so deep and hit us so hard? It’s a beautiful mystery, but right now Adele possesses the voice that digs deepest into the soul of the world. And lord, she’s singing her heart out on this song.

There are lots of long, fluctuating notes ripe with emotion, as words are stretched almost to breaking point with at least eight notes flowing through “easy” alone, or rather “ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-easeeee” as Adele delivers it. The sentiment is sincere, the conviction is total, the voice is utterly compelling, and all that lies beneath it is a smoothly played piano, the resonant notes underpinning Adele as her unconstrained performance draws us into her emotional world with hypnotic power.

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 A bass drum and bass guitar kick in about halfway through, to add some substance and thicken up the sound, but from top to bottom this song is all about the piano, the voice and the feeling.

In other words, it does what music has always done, what music is meant to do, what music is for. I hope it utterly demolishes the world and reminds everyone listening that songs don’t need overloaded state-of-the-art production, ear-bashing hooks, trendy twists or gimmicky guest stars.

They need heart and soul, flowing melodies and sincerely felt lyrics, and the kind of voice that can carry emotion and demand attention.

In those regards, Adele’s stripped-down, heartfelt comeback is a thing of beauty and wonder.

The Daily Telegraph

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