This week sees the release of Ellie Goulding’s sophomore album, Halcyon. It documents the high highs and low lows of her relationship with ex-boyfriend, BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James.

Goulding already told CBS Local that listeners should expect something darker on this new album, but we were unprepared for how rawly she delves into her past relationship. She did prepare one important person however: her ex. The singer reportedly played select tracks for him in advance of the album’s release so he’d be prepared — a good thing too, since he’s likely to be end up playing songs written about him on his British radio show.

Goulding got away from it all, both her past love and the burgeoning relationship with current boyfriend Skrillex, abandoning her everyday life in London to record Halcyon. She retired to the Herefordshire village where she spent her childhood in mid-western England for the duration of the album’s recording.

“I just felt like I needed to reground myself, back out in the countryside and not have anything effect me or lose my focus. Actually, I think it really benefitted the album. It’s got a specific sound because of that, because of the fact I was out where I grew up. It has an extra added feeling from being somewhere that’s really close to my heart.”

That time away has yielded the singer’s first co-produced album, which is a complimentary companion to the first.

“To be honest, I’ve always co-produced my stuff. Even on the last record, I just forgot to put it in the album sleeve,” Goulding laughs. “I say that in the sense that me and Jim [Eliot, co-producer of Halcyon], both of our efforts, like creative ideas, everything went sort of 50/50 into a track. I was like, ‘Do I write down that I was co-producer or not?’ Then I realized that it was actually really important because I come up with a lot of stuff and I felt like it was only fair.”

It’s more than fair — production credits on an album impact royalty payments as well as artistic credibility and add an important line to the resume of this musician. Goulding paints a lackadaisical picture of how the two collaborated on the album’s production, however.

“Me and Jim just made my record like kids, really. We experimented with sounds and played around, messed around. We’d mess around to the point where we’d find these really special little things like vocal things or lyrics. It really was experimentation that made the record.”

Halcyon is available now.

-Courtney E. Smith, CBS Local