Fresh as a daisy for UK Glamour's July "Women of the Year" cover, Adele Adkins is a vision for summer, but there's a sadness to the beautiful British chanteuse's story hidden beneath the brash talk and puffs of Marlboro Light. Winner of Glamour's UK Solo Artist of the Year award and a self-described "self-help singer", Adkins recently cancelled her American tour, citing recurring laryngitis as her concern.
"I'm really frustrated. I was hoping with a week's rest I'd be better to sing again straight away. However, there is absolutely nothing I can do but take the doctor's advice and rest some more. I'm so sorry. See you soon," she said. Both her albums – 19 and 21 – have appeared in Australia's top 10 sellers of late, though, she tells Glamour, "It's not like I Google myself or go, "What are my figures this week?"."
The interview reveals that Adkins got right into fashion after being dressed by Anna Wintour for the Grammys ("I love dressing up now. I love being girlie"), that she "doesn't forgive" easily after a bad breakup, much less after hearing the engagement announcement of an ex ("I thought the world had ended and I was going to sit in my dark flat forever and my dog was going to eat me!"), gives some of the money that trickles in from family sales to family, friends and charity ("I don't come from any money, so I help people") and thinks Beyonce and Glamour editor Jo Elvin – for putting a plus-size girl on the cover – are her women of the year.
While she says her voice is better when she's off the smokes, she's not been able to stave off them for longer than two months (because it was boring). She appeared on the cover of The Gentlewoman Issue #3 brandishing one of her Marlboros, too. In that interview, penned by Jude Rogers, she's celebrated for being "more ordinary, more accessible" than her British contemporaries and plumbing "the depths of the loneliness young women can experience" while sprinkling it with magic. "She's that shameless side of all of us, but she's also warm and welcoming."
We learn that the BRIT School graduate, songwriter and musician (she writes the bulk of her music) was brought up by a single teenaged mother, hasn't seen her Welsh dad in years, is "resolutely working-class" and is drawn to the sadness in country and blues music. She attributes her talent to her mother's nurturing ("I was really lucky that my mum had such good taste") and is forthcoming with praise for the Spice Girls, speaking of "that incredible feeling of being completely united with the entire world as a fan – the same sort of rush you get when you love someone so much."
Rogers detects a hint of self-doubt when Adkins is pressed on her body image: "I've never looked at a magazine cover and gone, 'That's what I need to look like if I'm going to succeed in life'," she says. "If you think that, you're naive. Even if I looked like Katy Perry, I'd never do a shoot in my underwear. I hate that idea, that people might say, 'Look at her – she's only doing well because she's got an amazing body.'"
Her Vogue shoot experience was "alien" ("I don't read Vogue – it's not part of my life – but obviously I'm completely aware of its importance.") and loathes that journalists reporting on the rise of the British female soul league (Amy Winehouse, Duffy) "were really just treating our gender like a genre". She talks of a "disgusted bitterness" about her failed relationships, "achingly" missing her mother while in LA and her anxiety at not being a good friend: "I get scared that they'll get upset that I didn't remember little details of their dates or their boyfriends – I don't want to become someone absent from their lives."
Her mother and Bette Middler are two of her role models (apart from 'Queen B' Beyonce) and shares that she wants people to feel at home when they see her. The feeling's mutual: "the nicest thing is when I meet some of my fans, and they make me really happy and comfortable to be me."
Just as a girl should be. Get well, Adele.
Girl With a Satchel