“I’m always keen to try and put songs on the album that will make a difference because if I don’t then I feel like I’m wasting what I’ve got,” Calum Scott says of creating Bridges, his second album and first since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The singer-songwriter said he was “struggling” with his mental health during the UK’s lockdowns, which were the first times he had “been without people for that long”. But, despite these feelings of isolation, the experience resulted in Calum delivering his strongest body of work to date. “I think my mental health and what’s been going on around me during this album has very much made it into the DNA of Bridges,” he tells GAY TIMES.
When it came to creating Only Human, which was released in 2018 and reached the top four in the UK, Calum had his “entire life experience” to base the songs on. With four years passing between then and the release of Bridges, he questioned what was left for him to explore: “When I was writing that second album I was like, right, what do I want to say now? I don’t want to just regurgitate everything I’ve just said in the first album. So, what do I do? And so I kind of had that mirror held up against me and again, having Fraser [T Smith] in my ear, I was just kind of thinking, well, I need to to collect how I feel right now in this snapshot of time.”
The new record sees Calum get more candid about how he feels, who he is and what he stands for more than ever before. Tracks like Bridges – which he calls his most “personal song” to date – and Cross Your Mind offer a heightened level of vulnerability, which the former Britain’s Got Talent star says he was “scared” about sharing. “I think there was a massive thing for me on how much of myself do I put in my music, because as a person and as a human being, if I put all of myself into my music, I leave nothing for myself,” he explains. “And that makes me feel very scared and vulnerable, you know, to put so much of myself in my music.”
It was Calum’s desire to help others which ultimately made him decide to share his most personal experiences with the world, as his work on advocating for better mental health, including his recent partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, showed “how much my music has helped people.” He continues: “I’ve always wanted to be somebody who helps people growing up. I wanted to be a counsellor or a therapist. So I think this is kind of what I’m doing with my music, but tenfold really.”
Calum opened up about his identity as an LGBTQ+ person on Only Human, particularly in the fan favourite track No Matter What – something that has been inspiring to many of his fans. He was keen to further explore this on Bridges, opting to include a stunning cover of Boys in the Street by Greg Holden, which he describes as “a tear jerker” that made many of his closest friends cry when they first heard it. Discussing the track, Calum reveals that hearing the original for the first time also moved him to tears: “Just as on a human level, the story is a very real story and it just so heavily resonates and there is such a beautiful tragedy in that song…I definitely wanted to include something that spoke to me, but something that I know would speak to millions of other people.”
Despite being incredibly proud of what he has created, he says that it was “tough” to put the album together. At one point, he found himself disliking most of what he was producing during the recording process: “I’m sat there going, ‘This is rubbish’ – I was ripping stuff up and throwing it in the bin, even stuff that I’d done with friends, just discarding it…And I was so destructive. So that’s kind of how I fell upon Biblical – my producer at the time, Jon Maguire, he was like, ‘Here I’ve got this idea’ and that really re-inspired me back into my work. Loving somebody beyond measure, beyond description for me was just exactly what I needed to hear and write about and, not long after that, I wrote Rise which, again, was another product of that journey.”
When it comes to his favourite tracks on Bridges, Calum says it’s hard to choose a top three because his songs are like his “babies” – but due to Boys in the Street being “such a beautiful” song, it has to be there. “And we’ve been singing it live, obviously I was just on tour with The Script, and singing it live, it’s funny because my time manager brings a stool onto the stage and I said to the audience, I’m like, if you thought that was a ballad, look at this one – when a stool comes out, you know that it’s a serious ballad!” He also names Biblical and Run with Me, the first because it was the initial “appetiser of what the second album is and sounds like” and the latter because of how “anthemic” it is.
Calum will soon embark on a world tour with 25 dates scheduled for North America, as well as dates across the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa. He says that touring is “everything” to him and that this time, he is “definitely going to go down a more of a musical route” with the upcoming performances. “I mean, I think every artist will probably tell you that there’s just a newfound appreciation for live shows now,” he further explains. “I think you’re feeling that from the fans and the artists.”
Admittedly, he’s anxious about performing some of the new tracks: “I mean, God knows why I keep writing songs that I’m not going to be able to sing live! And when I wrote Rise, I was like, OK, Christ, we’re hitting new peaks with my vocals! And there’s more songs on the album, I won’t mention them, but there are some songs on there where I’m like, I am not going to have a voice.”
Reflecting on Bridges, Calum declares that “it is the most vulnerable but also the most confident work I think I’ve ever done.” He has found the transition from his debut to sophomore record a “coming of age thing” which has helped him realise who he is as both an artist and a person: “The second album was very much me trying to figure out what it was I wanted to say as an artist and so I decided to be more personal and more honest and this album’s sort of, it’s got that journey. The same with the first where it has, you know, it talks about that vulnerability and that kind of heartbreak and emotion. But then also on this album, I feel more so than the last, talks about confidence and motivation and you know, security and all those things that I think round off what I feel is my best work yet.”
For more information about loneliness and practical help and advice, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website here.
Tickets for Calum Scott’s UK tour are on sale now on his website.
You can listen to Bridges below or by clicking here.