REVIEW: Lewis Capaldi’s New Album ‘Lullabies for people of neglect’26 April 2021
Capaldi is known for using vague, at times confusing metaphors to describe the human experience in his music. Now, in 2021, the 24-year-old is back with more melodrama than your nana’s Mills & Boon novels. To talk about this fresh and unique take on lullabies, we sat down with Capaldi in his parents’ plush studio apartment, floating down the River Clyde in Glasgow.
Upon entering, Capaldi revealed that the apartment produces zero carbon emissions, instead powered by cyclists, all living in the lower quarters where their waste is converted into compost thanks to the work of thousands of “yummy worms”. When I inquired about why he’d chosen to describe the worms as “yummy”, Capaldi pretended not to hear me.
Changing the subject back to the circuitry of the floating apartment, Capaldi spoke of his new release. “Most of these lullabies are, thankfully, public domain.” He glanced, as if for confirmation, at his lawyer. The lawyer, who had been floating in the corner the entire time, wore a dark cloak over their shoulders and a scowl upon their face. They nodded slowly. Capaldi continued. “S-so these songs are very cheap to cover, and I just emulate the sound of your parents… I’m like a mockingbird in some ways, but not actually! Ha ha—that would be weird.” Capaldi paused to squawk and pull a fleshy pink worm from his pocket. “But it’s really all about the way you perceive my voice with your desperate attempts at forming human connection.”
As he gobbled up the worm with gusto, Capaldi described the album to me as “twelve beautifully rendered lullabies”. For example, a new version of ‘Hush Little Baby’ saw the traditional lyrics replaced to suit more contemporary tastes: “Mamma’s gonna buy you an ethically sourced acoustic guitar / And if that ethically sourced acoustic guitar don’t sing / Mamma’s gonna bribe the music producer with a sweet £10,000 tip…”.
Aware of the love and support for Capaldi’s career throughout his life, I queried on his experiences with childhood neglect. In response, Capaldi claimed that his parents’ ongoing love and support gives him “a unique and powerful perspective on neglectful parents”. He postulated that “sometimes we have to admit that an outsider’s perspective gives us clarity… like Robin DiAngelo’s seminal work ‘White Fragility’ or when Stephen King writes anything. Damn that guy is good, have you read his stuff? Yeah, people go wild for that queer subtext in his novels—have you seen the forums? But whenever anyone asks him about it, Stevie King’s like ‘Naw! Ain’t no queers here!’ and I respect that…”. I must admit I was charmed, if not bemused, by his childlike glee for shallow textual analysis.
But I had the urge to move onto safer topics, since his lawyer was now holding a knife to my throat. My larynx closing at the pressure of their gloved hand, I gasped out a question about how his music connects people intergenerationally. “Oh yes! Nan especially loves my rendition of ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’—a classic. I changed the lyrics so now they’re like ‘Rock-a-bye baby in my wee cot / wait—get out o’ mah bed yah overcooked tater tot’. You know, it’s like subverting the narrative around motherhood…”. Clearly, love doesn’t know the bounds of time, and neither does emotional neglect.
A soft growl emanated from the lawyer and Capaldi shrunk back, “B-but yeah, Nana loved it, I think—I mean she was crying so I assume it really moved her. I haven’t seen her since that day.”
When asked about what happened to his nana, Capaldi grew quiet, face pale as milk. His lip shuddered visibly and his eyes filled with tears.
Abruptly, the lawyer howled, and the room went black. When the lights flicked back on, Capaldi was nowhere in sight, and I had to wonder if this was the apotheosis of the interview. But before I could learn any more information, I was locked up in the cell that I now write to you in.
I haven’t seen the light of day in weeks.
Rating: 8/10. Available on all good streaming services.