With his powerful voice and soul-baring songwriting, Calum Scott creates the kind of deeply resonant songs primed to accompany the most meaningful moments in our lives. Since the release of his 2017 breakthrough single “You Are The Reason,” the UK-based artist has heard from countless fans across the globe who’ve used the platinum-selling smash as the soundtrack for such major events as weddings and end-of-life rituals, or who’ve turned to his music for solace in enduring tremendous heartbreak and loss. In the making of his sophomore album Bridges, Scott doubled-down on his commitment to transforming his most intimate experiences into songs that lift the spirits and strengthen the heart—a move that profoundly clarified his own sense of purpose.
“From touring all over the world and seeing how people have been affected by my music, I realized how important it is for me to keep writing from a very honest place,” says Scott, whose 2018 debut album Only Human landed at No. 1 on the Apple Music album chart in over 20 countries. “I’ve learned that I can take the painful things I’ve been through, then create something beautiful that helps people to process their feelings, to take action, to become more compassionate and understanding of others, or just to escape from the world for a while. For me this new album is about sharing things I’ve never shared before and taking leaps that sometimes feel terrifying, with the hope that it will bring some inspiration or reassurance to anyone who needs it.”
Made with A-list producers like Greg Kurstin (an eight-time Grammy Award-winner who’s worked with Paul McCartney and Adele), Bridges takes its title from an intensely poignant song documenting a particularly dark and desperate period in Scott’s life. “It feels quite surreal to think about now, but ‘Bridges’ is about the actual experience of being on a bridge and contemplating whether or not it was worth it to continue on a path that felt so endlessly painful and lonely to me at the time,” he reveals. “The thing that prevented me from taking that action was thinking about the turmoil it would leave behind, which allowed me to focus on other people instead. It’s a very personal story, but something I felt I needed to put on the album and deliver with real sincerity, given the relationship I’ve built with my fans.”
In keeping with Scott’s intentions for the entire album, “Bridges” ultimately uncovers an unlikely hope in the darkness, a delicate alchemy that echoes his newfound self-assurance in his role as a lyrical storyteller. “This album was a bit of a coming-of-age for me, where I really settled into who I am and what I want to say,” he notes. Along with exploring an incredibly vast scope of emotions, Bridges finds Scott bringing an even greater depth of expression to his indelible vocal work—an element on full display on the album’s lead single “Biblical,” whose title refers to “a love of biblical proportions that transcends everyone and everything.” Co-written with such esteemed songwriters as James Bay and partly recorded at Abbey Road Studios, the piano-laced ballad embodies a soulful minimalism that beautifully contrasts its unfettered outpouring. “‘Biblical’ came to me during lockdown, when I hadn’t seen my friends or family for months, and it just completely captured that feeling of how everything else pales into insignificance when I’m with the people I love,” Scott explains.
A gloriously soaring anthem of resilience, “Rise” takes on a more triumphant tone as Scott channels the pure joy in overcoming the most punishing obstacles. “I wrote ‘Rise’ at a time when I was very frustrated, but I turned it into a song about rising from the ashes,” Scott recalls. “In general, the thing I love to do is just stand behind a microphone and connect with people, resonate, inspire compassion, and help everyone embrace their emotion along with me, but with ‘Rise’ I wanted to inspire positivity and to motivate people, to put an arm around them and say ‘we’ve got this,’ and to come back fighting.”
Elsewhere on Bridges, Scott presents such exquisitely nuanced tracks as “If You Ever Change Your Mind,” a strangely uplifting reflection on a broken romance. “It’s about looking back on a relationship that was so difficult to get over, and recognizing that you’re much stronger now,” he says. “But at the same time there’s still that part of you that’s
asking, ‘Would I go back now? Could it work, would it be a good idea?’” Meanwhile, on “Heaven,” Bridges shifts into an utterly euphoric mood as Scott speaks to the singular bliss of fully surrendering to love. “As songwriters, we’re always searching for new ways of saying ‘I miss you’ or ‘I love you’ or ‘I want you back,’” he says. “The concept of ‘Heaven’ is the love between two people being so powerful that it is far superior to anything else, any other form of paradise that could be offered. I loved the idea of putting the power into the relationship.”
Although much of Bridges examines the intricacies of romantic love and heartache, the quietly brooding “Cross Your Mind” emerged as Scott ruminated on a complex relationship. The electric-guitar-infused track soon evolved into what Scott describes as “one of the most challenging songs I’ve ever had to sing.” “There’s a lot of angst and pent-up emotion in that song, which has to do with the lack of resolution I was feeling at the time,” he says. “It’s about wondering if this other person is thinking of you, missing you, wishing things could be better—and having no way of knowing. All that lingering becomes extremely painful, but I still wrote ‘Cross Your Mind’ with the hope that there’s room for things to change.” And while his songs invariably possess an immediate resonance, allowing for a breadth of interpretations, Scott also penned one of his most extraordinarily personal and specific tracks to date during the sessions for Bridges—a song that can solely be discovered on physical copies of the album.
In one of Bridges’ most stunning moments, Scott offers up a gorgeously tearful rendition of Greg Holden’s “Boys in the Street” (a devastating account of a father’s struggle to accept his openly gay son). Like Scott’s platinum-certified, Brit Award-nominated take on Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” (which kicked off his rise to global prominence), “Boys in the Street” affirms him as an ineffably gifted song interpreter, capable of adding new emotional weight to each and every line. “In the past I’ve written about my own experience in coming out, and I’ve heard from people in the LGBTQ+ family about how it’s helped them to finally accept who they are,” Scott says. “After we posted a live version for National Coming Out Day, I heard from a man who said he’d been worried about the possibility of his kids being gay, but that the performance made him realize he’d love his children unconditionally no matter what. If I can help to inspire that kind of positive change in the world, that’s really everything to me.”
For Scott, the sharing of Bridges’ fearlessly candid songs fulfills a lifelong urge to comfort and empower others. “When I was younger I wanted to be a therapist because I just wanted to help people, and music has given me the ability to do that tenfold,” he says. “It’s allowed me to deal with my demons and funnel all those emotions into songs, then put them out into the world so that hopefully they can make a difference in someone else’s life.” With his headlining tour of North America kicking off this summer, Scott is quick to point out that performing those songs live and witnessing their impact on his fans remains the most infinitely rewarding aspect of his work. “I always want people to leave my shows feeling like they’ve just sat with their friends for an hour and a half and started to contemplate their problems in a different way,” Scott says. “Looking out and seeing everyone connecting with these songs I’ve written in the most tragic or beautiful moments is the closest thing to magic that I’ll ever get. It never stops inspiring me to be as real and sincere in my music as I possibly can.”