“I don’t want another song like [‘Hello’]” said Adele in a recent interview with Vogue, “that song catapulted me in fame to another level that I don’t want to happen again”. If Adele wanted her comeback to attract less attention than her previous era, then she was on a mission destined to fail; in the years since ’25’, her every move, social media post and TV appearance has attracted feverish attention; her first new music in six years was destined to be a blockbuster event even before anyone had heard a single word of it.
Still, there’s a sense – at least to begin with – that with ‘Easy On Me’, Adele is trying to lower the fever pitch and create something smaller and more intimate than her previous releases. Unlike the grand and cinematic beginning of ‘Hello’, ‘Easy On Me’ begins with a relatively straightforward piano arrangement that harks back to her debut ’19’. Meanwhile, instead of instantly scaling the heights of her previous lead single – and it’s show-stopping chorus – Adele spends time here exploring her delicate falsetto and, the brooding mysterious story-telling of ‘Hello’ has been replaced by a more introspective, world-weary tone.
But, at the end of the day, Adele is Adele and even when she doesn’t want to, she can’t help herself from making a statement; and make no mistake, ‘Easy On Me’ is a *big* statement. Even over relatively bare-bones arrangements, Adele’s voice sores and captivates as she croons confessionals with unrivalled vocal control. Even if she’s not breaking any new ground, Adele remains utterly compelling; her powerhouse vocals able to sell just about any song. Maybe it also helps that with the world having changed irrevocably, and for the worse, since her 2015 LP, hearing her voice anew again feels like a balm sent from the past; a reminder that some things never change – and never need to.