Lewis Capaldi is a man possessed. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter first exploded onto the music scene just over a year ago with “Bruises,” which quickly went on to become something of a viral sensation. The artist’s empathic talent for lyricism coupled with his powerful, timeless voice strikes a chord hidden somewhere deep within you. The Scottish newcomer’s latest is another foray into the buried recesses of the human heart, as Calpadi is haunted by the ghost of a past lover in “Tough.”
“Tough” takes no time getting to its core message. The first line Capaldi utters in nonchalant fashion is, “Every little part of me is holding onto every little part of you.” In marvelous Capaldi fashion, the Scottish wordsmith has beautifully and accurately ventured into the world of loss and obsession. While his talent for songwriting that blurs the line between lyric and poetic verse cannot be understated, there is another dynamic feature on display that greatly seeks to elevate “Tough:” the instrumentation.
The artist’s most moving of works has often made use of an isolated piano to exalt Capaldi’s penchant for the piercingly melancholic. Yet, in “Tough,” Capaldi finds himself backed by a string section that while at times solitary also delves into grand and soaring moments. Within this seeming juxtaposition, Capaldi leans into the folk and rock-minded nature of it all for a song that is yes, still quite beautifully melancholic, but feels more optimistic than willing to wallow in the past. As Capaldi says so himself to bookend “Tough,” “But I keep on trying ‘cause I know I need to outrun the memories.”
This underlying sense of forward-moving optimism found from with the remains of a past relationship translates beautifully in Capaldi’s live rendition of the song. The artist goes from complete isolation, showcasing the full range of his soulful voice, to demonstrating the amount of emotion he is capable of drawing out from an acoustic guitar, to finally a grand culmination that metaphorically and thematically bursts forward.
Watch the live rendition of “Tough” below:
For more Lewis Capaldi, revisit our interview with the quickly-rising talent following his first headline show in Los Angeles.