More than just a lingering case of gloom and glum, the unexpected grit in the ballads of Lewis Capaldi is that gasp of air the world genuinely needs these days.
It doesn’t take rocket science or a degree in psychology to recognize that everyone, no matter how self-actualized and well adjusted, wrestles with crippling and stifling bouts of sadness. Despite what façade is fronted or conviction is drilled into the subconscious, it will require more than just an it’s going to be okay to get through the wringer of emotions, especially when it demands to be confronted at that stretch of silence in the dead of night. “Let yourself be sad…let yourself be sad for a long time, and then you’ll be better. Don’t shut out the sadness,” says Lewis Capaldi, the man who has had us marinating in our feelings with the release of his commercial and critical catharsis that is Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent. “If you’re heartbroken, it’s okay to cry. Cry and eat as much junk food as possible, that’s my advice. Or write an album and you might be doing a press conference one of these days.”
Or you know, listen to the record on repeat in the winter of our insufferable hours.
Despite the precedent that is his smashing musical success, Lewis Capaldi is anything but self-pitying and self-loathing as his lyrics. Ironically enough, he is highly self-aware and self-deprecating, greeting us from the other end of the screen in what he describes as a disgusting shock of lime green. It isn’t half as bad as he describes, especially as it was bathed in a wash of golden morning light. Chipper and charming with his tumble of ginger hair and unassuming white shirt, it didn’t seem like we were face-to-face with the one responsible for sending us into many fits of emotions curled in a fetal position at any given time.
“I’ve been okay, yeah. I’ve been very bored, it’s nothing fun. I’m not enjoying myself, but I guess being the best thing you can be during a pandemic, you know what I mean? It’s a privilege to be bored with all this stuff going on,” he realizes, making a thoughtful assessment of personal survival amid the pandemic. As he still famously lives with his parents, he jests how his mother is not always entirely please to see him at the end of the work day in the living room with Doritos on his chest in is underwear. “My parents are ready to fight one another, because they’re lumped together in a confined space. It’s been too long,” he says. While that may be the case in the blur of time and circumstance, Lewis Capaldi has been pretty productive in the pandemic. “Creatively, yes. Personally, absolutely not. Creatively,I’ve written lots of music and I have done a lot of stuff, but as a human being… other people have picked up yoga or picked up a new skill, I have done none of those things,” he details. “When I’m not making music, I have been laying around doing nothing. Musically, we’ve got some stuff. So, it’s not been a complete waste of waste of time.”
Music, as Lewis Capaldi reiterates, is what has kept him sane and together in quarantine. When he isn’t working on his own material, which it has been reported to not see the light of day until 2021, “because the world has suffered enough this year,” he is listening to everything from Blink 182, Cardi B’s WAP (“It’s a very good song…makes me feel like a real woman”), and Celine Dion’s enduring ballad, Power of Love. It doesn’t take much to impress him musically, saying that “If it makes you feel something, or brings out something in you…those that make you feel good. It’s songs that make you feel like you want to punch in the chest in the nicest possible way,” then those are what keeps an ear out for. But most importantly, it is the communal spirit of songs that he feels is necessary in the times we live in.
“I think it’s because it brings people together. It reminds people that we’re not in this alone,” he explains. “People’s circumstances vary, and some people have it worse, but it’s just nice to know that music can get people to do anything and the pandemic has not discouraged from that.” This only means we will be getting a whole lot more than just an extended version of Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent in the foreseeable future. “It’s just nice to know that someone else was going through a similar thing together. Do you know what I mean? When I’m happy, I don’t think about why I’m happy. I just think about I don’t know, puppies and spaghetti and stuff,” he says with a chuckle. “But when I’m sad, hearing a song that says what you want to say, that you feel like you don’t know how to put any words, and I mean that like from Yesterday by The Beatles. They said it so perfectly. It’s like, don’t worry everything’s going to be well. It’ll be fine and all good.”
With a religious-like reverence to his music, especially with standouts such as Someone You Loved, Grace, Hold Me While You Wait, Bruises, Lost On You, and of course, Before You Go, it is easy to fall trap to the seemingly inescapable drowning of loneliness. But even in apparent darkness, there always exists a crack of light that will sliver its way to shine through, making sure that hope floats. “It’s been really heartwarming to see people reacting to it and hearing people’s stories,” says Lewis Capaldi of his star-making songs. “It’s crazy, because with Someone You Loved, I kind of thought, it was doing too well. That isn’t a good sign, because I might be a one-hit wonder. But it’s so nice to see the growth into Before You Go, especially because I haven’t able to go to all these place to promote the song and go to radio stations and things like that, play it for people. It’s been pretty amazing to see people [still] connecting with me.”
Contrary to popular belief or inexorable assumption, it isn’t just a lingering desire to be glum and gloomy all the time. In fact, it is through his music that people have gone to the surface for a gasp of air to survive, just as he grits through his chords and growls over his choruses, defining what it means to charge and fight back, even for oneself. This greater sense and purpose isn’t lost on Lewis Capaldi, who has navigated his musical career in the most honest and genuine way of coming to terms with a swelling surge of feelings, touching on dark and delicate subjects that explain and express rather than exploit emotionally. “So, yeah, to have people come up and say Someone You Loved has helped them through the loss of a family, a friend or a lover, it’s very hard to wrap my head around. It’s a lot of pressure, because when I wrote the song, I didn’t know anyone would relate to it that way,” he reveals. “Now, there’s a sense of you want to do right by those people. You want to do well for them, because you know that they’re going to hear it. I’ve got a lot of responsibility, since they will now turn to this. It’s a big honor, a beautiful thing, if I can say that. It’s amazing, that’s what it’s all about.”
That and take out from McDonald’s, he says, which we’re most definitely always in the mood for, together with an uninterrupted round of Lewis Capaldi on blast, please.