Think moving masterpieces, and a lot of people will immediately point to Adele, whose searingly honest tracks have been taking us on journeys through the human experience since she released her first album, 19, in 2008.
Since then, Adele has taken her time with the release of subsequent albums, honing in her craft to deliver heart-shattering collections that allow listeners a glimpse into her life, but which resonate deeply with many as she effortlessly taps into the things so many of us can relate to ourselves.
In addition to what we hear on her albums, Adele – who famously keeps the finer details of her private life out of the spotlight – has spoken candidly about her experience with depression, tracking it back to childhood, and opening up about seeing a therapist regularly.
Here, we’ve sifted through Adele’s catalogue, to outline the mental health and wellbeing lesson’s we’ve learned from this pillar of modern music.
From her first album, 19, ‘Chasing Pavements’ chronicles the last stretch of a relationship that’s lost all joy and hope for the future. And yet, despite this, leaving isn’t an easy decision, and the lyrics delve into the experience of holding on to something for longer than you know you should.
This experience doesn’t just apply to relationships, we’ve all been guilty of not letting go of the things that we should – be that a job, a friendship, or any other situation that holds us back. It’s something that ‘Chasing Pavements’ confronts this head-on, and it’s that honesty that we can all learn from.
In this track from 19, Adele is singing about her hometown of London, expressing the things that she misses about it, and exploring the ways that ‘home’ is so much more than a place.
There’s a certain heart wrench to this song (of course, not an uncommon trait), a lament for the places we lived, and the people we knew, growing up – for the ways that they made us who we are, and the displacement of returning once again when you’ve moved on.
Returning to our roots can both be a comforting and an unsettling experience – sometimes both at once. But there are so many lessons to learn from reflecting on our past, getting in touch with the people we used to be, retracing our journey, and connecting with our core drive and values.
‘Rolling in the deep’ isn’t a phrase that existed before Adele’s hit track, but she defines it as ‘someone who always has your back’, and the metaphor is all about going through the hard times together.
Though, of course, in the song, the subject has missed out on this relationship – and the album it appears on follows the breakdown of a relationship. But there’s something to be said for setting those boundaries when you’ve been hurt by someone – by stepping back and not being available to give that kind of support to someone you can no longer trust.
The standout hit from the album 21, ‘Someone Like You’ really resonated with many, and it’s easy to see why. Adele works her way through the experience of discovering an ex-partner has moved on with their life.
Now, there’s no denying that her ‘well wishes’ in the song are doused with bitterness and hurt – but the truth is, that’s a natural thing to experience, and confronting those feelings can be cathartic. Moving on is normal, but so is struggling to let go.
This track is from the album 25 which followed 21 – and while Adele labels 21 as a ‘break-up’ album, this one she named a ‘make up’ album, and that’s something that you can pick up on in ‘Hello’.
Here, Adele is singing about the need for closure following a relationship, she’s ‘on the other side’ now, and ready to talk things through and work out what went wrong. Clear from the music video and the lyrics, the other person in the relationship doesn’t want to talk – but this track sets the tone for finding yourself again after a relationship.
We can all relate to longing for simpler times when things get tough, and that’s exactly what Adele explores in this stripped-back track, ‘Million Years Ago’. Looking back on her childhood and youth, when she was surrounded by friends and family, Adele laments this stage of her life.
Growing up and changing as a person is tough, very tough, but there’s a comfort to be found in assessing that. And the line, ‘I know I’m not the only one / Who regrets the things they’ve done’ really captures this shared longing many of us understand. And yet, with the refrain that this was ‘a million years ago’, she’s reminding herself of where she is now, and putting herself back in the present.
The newly released track from her upcoming album 30, this song is characteristically heartbreaking, but self-reflective in a way that other songs haven’t quite touched upon.
In ‘Easy on Me’, Adele is reflecting on the role that she played in her recent divorce, simultaneously working through the ways that she went wrong while asking for forgiveness and understanding.
Be carried by the searing honesty of this new track, and feel connected to the humanity of vulnerability mixed with the inescapable need to protect yourself.
Hero image: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com
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