It's been seven years since she last released new music and in that time she’s lost nearly 50kg, overcome the crippling anxiety that once ruled her life and gone through a divorce.
A lot has changed in the world too in those seven years. Back when her album 25 was released, TikTok didn’t yet exist, Twitter had just replaced the star symbol with a heart “like” and Instagram feeds were still in chronological order.
Now there are Instagram stories – and Adele surprised and delighted her fans when she took to the platform recently and played a clip of her first single, Easy on Me, during her first live stream.
The song is the first single from 30 – her new album which comes out on 19 November – and it’s vintage Adele: from the heart and searingly emotional.
“I know there is hope in these waters but I can’t bring myself to swim when I am drowning in silence, baby let me,” she croons.
Adele is back and she’s all the rage. The 33-year-old made history this month by becoming the first person in history to grace the cover of both the UK and US Vogue editions.
And one thing stands out: if her recent statements and her new single are anything to by, her new album is going to delve ever deeper into her personal wellbeing.
In response to a fan’s question about what her new album will be based on, she replied: “Divorce, babe, divorce.”
Yet Adele was reluctant to call the record a divorce album in her Vogue interview.
“It was more me divorcing myself,” she says. “Just being like, get your f***in’ s**t together.”
However, she admits the album was recorded in part to tell her eight-year-old son, Angelo, about her decision to leave his dad, charity owner Simon Konecki (47), in 2019.
“I just felt like I wanted to explain to him, through this record, when he’s in his 20s or 30s, who I am and why I voluntarily chose to dismantle his entire life in pursuit of my own happiness.
“It made my son really unhappy sometimes. And that’s like a real wound for me that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to heal.”
The British songstress recently opened up to Rolling Stone magazine and admitted that said it was 'devastating' and 'embarrassing' when they had to announce their split to the public.
“It made me really sad,” Adele said. “Then having so many people that I don't know know that I didn't make that work … it [expletive] devastated me. I was embarrassed. No one made me feel embarrassed, but you feel like you didn't do a good job.”
Adele said that neither she nor Simon were to blame for the end of their seven-year marriage. Instead, she felt she needed change because she “didn't really know myself.”
“I thought I did,” she said. “I don't know if it was because of my Saturn return or if it was because I was well and truly sort of heading into my thirties, but I just didn't like who I was.”
The split left the Someone Like You singer with a “tsunami of emotions” which left her bedbound and binge-watching episodes of The Sopranos.
"I was like, ‘This is going to be really f---ing up-and-down,’" she said.
Heartbreak has helped Adele score numerous chart-topping hits and rake in millions since she burst onto the scene with 2008’s 19.
She was raised in London by a single mom, Penny Adkins, and was brilliantly gifted from the get-go. Adele was catapulted from playing guitar in the park to music classes at the acclaimed performing arts school The Brit School to a publishing deal and recording contract – all while still in her teens.
By 20 she was famous, that exquisite voice making its way out of radios across the world. A few short years later she was an industry record-breaker with a clutch of Grammys, Brits and even an Oscar to her name. She won the Academy Award for best original song for Skyfall, the first Bond movie to win an Oscar in 47 years.
Today Adele has sold more than 120 million records and is worth an estimated $190 million (R2,8 billion). But with fame and fortune came anxiety and a sense of unease about being in the spotlight.
At one point she even considered pulling out of music altogether, telling her manager, “This isn’t really for me. It’s not why I love music.”
“I got really famous right as Amy Winehouse died,” she says of the late star, who she idolised.
“And we watched her die right in front of our eyes.”
In the past Adele has solved her issues with fame by withdrawing from it completely, concerned she too could spiral out of control.
“I thought, I’m just going to lock myself in a house. That’s what I did. I was very reclusive. It paid off, I think.”
These days she’s trying harder to integrate her famous and private selves, something she credits to her newfound commitment to health and fitness.
Working out made her “just feel better”, she says, and helped her mental health.
“I realised that when I was working out, I didn't have any anxiety. It was never about losing weight,” she says, adding she’d often work out three times a day.
“I thought, if I can make my body physically strong, and I can feel that and see that, then maybe one day I can make my emotions and my mind physically strong.”
She stopped drinking for six months to alleviate 'hangxiety' - a term given for the negative feelings to one's mental health in the wake of drinking.
The superstar is also back in the love game after hooking up with American sports agent Rich Paul, who represents several big basketball players such as LeBron James.
“I did date before Rich, but the guys hated it,” she says.
“They’d find it stressful being out or seen with me. It never evolved because we were never experiencing things together. Whereas Rich’s not frazzled by it at all.”
She feels safe with him, she says.
“I don’t feel anxious or nervous or frazzled. I’m a 33-year-old divorced mother of a son, who’s actually in charge.”
Rich arrived in Adele’s life just days before her estranged father, Mark Evans, died of cancer in May this year.
Mark left wife Penny shortly after Adele was born and had very little to do with his daughter. After Adele became famous, Mark sold a story about her to The Sun newspaper and she was furious.
However, she now says she and her father made their peace before he died.
“I played him my album just a week before he passed, over Zoom,” she says.
“One thing that definitely happened in my divorce was that it humanised my parents for me. And in that I found the peace to forgive him.”
She credits therapy and meditation with helping her realise her relationship with her father shaped the way she treated the other men in her life.
“My relationship with men in general, my entire life, has always been: You’re going to hurt me, so I’ll hurt you first. It’s just toxic and prevents me from actually finding any happiness,” the Rolling in The Deep singer says.
These days she’s trying hard to avoid her past mistakes and in doing so has forged a great co-parenting relationship with her ex-husband.
She and Simon are still close, he lives in “the house opposite my house”, and the pair have regular movie nights with their young son.
“I definitely chose the perfect person to have my child with,” she says. “That is one of my proudest things.”
Sources: vogue.co.uk, vogue.com, celebritynetworth.com, theguardian.com, independent.co.uk, people.com