In the new interview, the Grammy and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter revealed that much of the album is an open letter to her son Angelo, specifically so that he has a better understanding of who his mother was during the period of her life that surrounded her separation from her husband Simon Konecki. She began writing in early 2019, as her marriage was dissolving, and finished the bulk of the album in early 2020, right before the start of the pandemic.
Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, Shellback, and Tobias Jesso Jr. returned to the studio with Adele, after having worked on her previous album 25. She also brought up-and-coming North London producer Inflo into the fold. With Inflo, each studio day would begin with a “six-hour therapy session” where they would unpack what she was going through at the time.
“He really taught me to chill out,” she said, explaining that he helped her lose some of her “control freak” tendencies by having her take a closer listen to albums by classic artists like Marvin Gaye and the Carpenters. “He was like, ‘If you really listen, this is a mess. If you really listen, people are playing the wrong notes. They’re coming in at the wrong time. It’s all about the energy and the atmosphere that that creates. Why would you want anyone to do another take if you’ve just got the most perfect take that there is?’ ”
Also new to Adele’s musical family is Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson, who worked on the album opener “Strangers by Nature.” She described the song as an homage to Judy Garland, inspired by a viewing of the Renee Zellwegger-led biopic Judy.
“You know in the old movies when someone’s having a flashback or a memory to something else, and it’s almost like they’ll shoot a river or a pond and the water goes all ripply? It reminds me of that.”
Elsewhere, the R&B lullaby “My Little Love” features voice memos of bedtime conversations she’s had with her son, while songs like “Woman Like Me” and “All Night Parking” detail the first relationship she had following the demise of her marriage, which has since ended.
“[It] was a great learning curve and nice to feel loved, but it was never going to work,” she said of the former flame.
Adele also noted that the album goes in chronological order, charting the emotional development she faced as her life was rapidly changing at the dawn of her thirties. The lead single, “Easy on Me,” was released last month.