Liner Notes: Adele chronicles divorce in “30”


Graphic by Angeli Mittal

Adele released her fourth studio album “30” on Friday.

Alexa Crowder, Reporter

Sad Girl Autumn is officially here: Adele delivered 12 new songs to Cry Your Heart Out to. 

The singer released her fourth studio album “30” on Friday, her first in six years. The album chronicles the emotional complexities of her divorce from Simon Konecki, from whom she separated in 2019. 

“30,” packed with raw lyrics and powerful vocals, fits smoothly into the rest of Adele’s catalog of heartbreaking ballads. The album draws inspiration from jazz and gospel music; multiple tracks feature gospel choir backing vocals and organ instrumentals, and “All Night Parking” samples jazz pianist Erroll Garner. 

The album has already achieved major success with listeners around the world. Within the first two days of its release, the 12 tracks on “30” constituted the top 12 of Apple Music’s global chart. “Easy on Me,” the lead single which dropped on Oct. 15, broke the record for most Spotify streams in a day. 

“Easy on Me” is a stand-out track that deserves its lead single status. The piano ballad stays true to Adele’s classic sound. Lyrics like “I changed who I was to put you both first / But now I give up” nod to the singer’s reckoning with her divorce, which persists throughout the album. 

The lyric “you both” refers to her husband and their 9-year-old son, to whom she sings on “My Little Love.” That song is the most raw of the whole album. Adele wrestles with guilt and grief as she attempts to explain her divorce to her son through song.

The song also includes voice notes of conversations between her and her son, and a 90-second monologue in the outro. These moments on the track are deeply personal and compound the emotional impact of the song. Adele’s son’s confession, “I feel like you don’t love me,” is especially painful to hear.

Adele told Vogue last month that her therapist originally suggested she record the conversations with her son. These real snippets from moments in Adele’s life further emphasize the degree to which she opened up to the public about even her most intense feelings. Each voice note deepens Adele’s honest connection with her audience.

But not every song on “30” is as crushingly sad. “Oh My God” represents the excitement and hesitancy in her first post-divorce relationship. To an upbeat tempo, Adele sings of her internal battle in the decision to move on with someone new. She repeats “I know that it’s wrong / But I want to have fun.” 

At the end of “30,” Adele concludes “Love Is A Game.” The song is a journey that takes listeners through a condensed version of the entire album. While she starts by blaming herself for all that’s gone wrong in her love life, she ends up deciding she is capable of love and will find it again.

The final three minutes of the album are a dramatic crescendo, complete with an orchestra and gospel choir, that leaves listeners on a hopeful note at the end of the 12-track emotional rollercoaster. 

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Twitter: @AlexaCrowder

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