Lewis Capaldi has spoken to Music Week about the making of his long-awaited second album, Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent, which is out today via EMI Records.
The long-awaited follow-up to Capaldi's 5x platinum debut, 2019's Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent (1,507,542 sales, OCC), the sophomore record already contains three No.1 singles: Forget Me (900,006 sales), Wish You The Best (141,902) and the Ed Sheeran co-write Pointless (393,927).
Capaldi, who ironically could depose the 32-year-old's latest LP Subtract at the album summit next week, suggested Sheeran will go down as one of Britain's greatest ever hitmakers.
"I think he's one of the best songwriters that the UK has had in however many years, maybe potentially of all time. Anybody who writes songs will tell you that what he does is incredible," Capaldi told Music Week. "He's someone I looked up to even before I met him. I've always been an Ed Sheeran fan - from Multiply right the way through to now. Let's enjoy him, he's absolutely incredible."
Capaldi, who penned Pointless with Sheeran, Johnny McDaid and Steve Mac, teamed up with another genius hitmaker - Max Martin - on the '80s-inspired Leave Me Slowly (Savan Kotecha, Oscar Holter and Max Grahn are also credited on the track).
"He’s an intimidating man. He’s very nice, but you’re like, ‘Fuck, that’s Max Martin!’" said Capaldi. "We worked with a few of the Swedish lot and I think, for the next album, I’d like to go back and forth to Sweden. They’re a cool bunch and they’re good at writing songs. But what I loved about it was I didn’t expect to come out with the song that we came out with. It sounds like an ’80s high school slow dance banger, so that’s an interesting thread to pull at when the time is right.”
A lot of musicians don't credit people - and not just on the actual credits - but in terms of talking about the experience of writing
In addition, Broken By Desire... saw Capaldi reunite with regular collaborators TMS (Someone You Loved), Phil Plested (Before You Go), Malay (Fade) and Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway (Grace) on album number two, plus new squad members Tobias Jesso Jr and JP Saxe.
"I love Phil so much, man," said Capaldi. "I love the way he writes and I love his voice. He's the nicest fucking guy in music, literally the sweetest man ever. Phil does things that I would never do, but in the same sort of space and we have similar tastes.
"It's the same with TMS, the same with Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway, and the same with Tobias Jesso Jr, who we worked with on this album. They're there to help me, and help me work out things that I can't work out, like Before You Go. When I came up with that song it was a verse and a pre-chorus and I was like, 'I don't know what to do for a chorus,' and within two seconds Plested starts strumming, 'So...dur dur dur dur' and you go, 'Oh right, cool. I'll have that.'"
The 26-year-old continued: "Songwriters are not appreciated enough. A lot of musicians don't credit people - and not just on the actual credits - but in terms of talking about the experience of writing. I always say 'we' did something, because it's not just me, we had a No.1 single: the label; the people I co-wrote it with; the band who had to tour it and do promo; the manager; the tour manager; my agents. We did it together."
Capaldi named his most recent chart-topper Wish You The Best as his favourite track on the new record - next to album closer How I'm Feeling Now - even though he jokingly described it as "a weeping, heartbreak ballad - Lewis Capaldi 101".
"It's my favourite single for sure," he said. "I wrote it in LA with Malay and JP Saxe and TMS produced it. The lyrics are amazing and I think a part of that is to JP Saxe's credit, he's quite good at pushing; he likes to get granular with the lyric when I'm maybe a bit more sweeping in my statements. There's a line in it, 'It's like Glasgow gets further from LA,' and you can definitely feel JP's influence on that."
We didn't play the label a single note of this record until it was finished
But despite positive experiences with his writing partners, Capaldi remains indifferent to the recording process.
"It hasn't grown on me at all. If anything, I hate it more," he said. "But I do think when you see the fruits of it, it's quite a nice thing to behold and be like, 'Do you know what? I'm glad we stuck in and really ground it out a bit.'"
While there has been a change at the top at EMI since Capaldi's first album, with Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington succeeding Ted Cockle, the Scot still feels very much at home.
"I think the label's still fucking great," he said. "We didn't play them a single note of this record until it was finished. But I think they trusted me that I wasn't going to deviate too much from the path. I'm not going to go make a rap record or as a jazz fusion album and I think they trusted me with that. As did Vertigo in Germany and Capitol in America - and it's been great."
And Capaldi, whose debut album was No.11 last week in its 208th week on the chart, also weighed in on the state of the Top 40.
"Anyone with any type of song can be No.1," he said. "Kate Bush was fucking No.1 a few [months] ago. So it feels like an exciting time to be releasing. You're now not only having to compete with amazing songs that are being written now, you have to compete with some of the best songs of all time coming back, but it's a good thing, man. I think music doing well is good for music, no matter what it is."
Revisit Music Week's 2022 Lewis Capaldi cover story here.