Adele worked with several co-writers and two main producers on “21”: Paul Epworth, a hip Brit who also produced Florence and the Machine, and Rick Rubin, the bear-hugging American record executive and producer renowned for getting back to basics with artists in the studio.
She said she appreciated the different approaches, each part of her learning process.
“I could have been in any era when I was hanging out with Rick,” she said. “I could have been in the `40s or 2080 or something. He calmed me and made me focus that it’s all about the music, all about the song, and it’s not about the glitter that comes after it. That was the best and biggest lesson I’ve learned.”
Epworth brought out a feisty side of her.
He probably earned his money on one day, when a moaning Adele showed up in the studio after breaking up with her boyfriend the night before. She wanted to write a lovelorn ballad. Epworth said no way.
In three hours they had written “Rolling in the Deep,” where the singer is a survivor, not a broken woman. “I couldn’t help thinking, we could have had it all,” she sings, her voice soaring in defiance.
“She’s evolved, she’s been through a lot in the last couple of years,” Krim said. “There’s a little more swagger on this record, but it’s not like a big departure from what she’d done on her last record. It’s a nice growth.”
Adele feels she’s grown simply in her attitude toward music. She became enamored with two seemingly divergent styles _ American country or roots music and rap _ and broadened her view.
“I used to be really stubborn and narrow-minded,” she said. “I was very much a teenager: what I knew was all that I needed to know, and what I like is all that I’d ever like. Now I’m a bit of a sponge. I want to take everything in and learn about it.”
Her disc has one cover song. She tried one old favorite, INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart,” but thought she didn’t nail it emotionally. Instead, she dipped into the catalog of her mom’s favorite band _ the Cure _ for an arrangement of “Love Song” that had been prepared for, although not used, by Barbra Streisand.
“They were the soundtrack of my life from birth until I was about 9 or 10, when I discovered the Spice Girls,” she said.
It makes for a nice segue into “Someone Like You,” when Adele, now 22, imagines running into her ex with a few more years of perspective.
“By the end, I was so tired of being (angry) about my ex,” she said. “I had to forgive myself for not making the relationship work.”
Associated Press writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this story.