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How I’m Feeling Now


Scottish singer songwriter Lewis Capaldi has had a stratospheric rise to fame since he released his first single in 2017, all whilst retaining the self-deprecating sense of humour, honesty and vulnerability that makes him so beloved by his fans. The new Netflix documentary How I’m Feeling Now, chronicles his journey from “ambitious teen with a viral performance to Grammy-nominated pop star”. We asked two of our writers to get comfy, take a watch and let us know what they thought.


A black illustration of Lewis Capaldi against a white background and surrounded by a dark red frame, his face turned to the right of the frame, his hair becoming waves and shapes
Artwork by @ellxamcd_art

Becky


How I’m Feeling Now opens by listing the huge achievements of Lewis Capaldi over an astoundingly short period of time. The montage rolls and flicks past our eyes at the speed that it must have felt Capaldi himself was moving. It ends with “and he has done so whilst remaining resolutely himself”, and this is something that you 100% cannot deny.


I am not a huge fan of Capaldi. I have heard his music (because you cannot miss it!), and I like it, but he isn’t an artist that I have listened to much. I have seen clips of his wild Instagram videos and have always found them amusing and, to be honest, refreshing. There is no artifice in them, or there certainly doesn’t seem to be from the outside. They don’t feel constructed by the label or polished like other social media content from artists, and that is nice to see. I definitely find it more engaging. The documentary shares this side of Capaldi with us, but we also get to see a little more than that.


It’s a film of contrasts. We see him in a meeting talking about global campaigns from his parent’s shed. We explore his deep, meaningful lyrics which communicate humanity, followed by jokes about having a wank. It’s interesting how these contrasts communicate why things may be difficult for Capaldi. As he says himself, what has happened to him is unbelievable. I think he’s speaking honestly when he talks about his imposter syndrome and how it affects him. He seems to genuinely have no understanding of why people like his music. All of this alongside the pressure of creating a 2nd album when the first album was so successful.


We also see his grounded family, who were his first audience (and often still are for his new material). His mum says his success doesn’t feel real, that it’s like watching a film. We learn that his dad used to drive him to gigs that he was too young to play at. We see footage of Lewis getting his first guitar. All of this feels a world away from where his life is now.


Whilst I enjoyed the cut-in montages at first, I found myself getting frustrated by them. We get to see snippets of his rise to fame, glossy concert footage contrasted with videos he has filmed himself and shared with fans on Instagram. But these did get a bit too much for me at times. I wanted to stay with the moments of vulnerability they captured, but I felt like we got dragged away. The montages became too dramatised, and detract from the reality and honesty that Capaldi oozes. The documentary shines when it stays with the moment.


I also appreciated getting a glimpse into his creative process and how he writes his lyrics, following whatever seems to be bringing up feelings for him. We see that it definitely isn’t always easy for Capaldi, just as when we see him struggle with his undiagnosed Tourette’s and his anxiety. None of these paths are smooth and it is very generous of him to let us view that part of his journey. In a world where it often seems that everyone is desperate to make things look as effortless as possible, I think it’s great to see someone showing how hard it can be.


If you enjoyed How I’m Feeling Now, I would also suggest watching George Ezra’s documentary End to End. The vibes are very different as Ezra is such a different personality, but it has the same “my journey to this album” through line against a very different backdrop.


Lewis, a young man with scruffy light brown hair is performing on stage wearing a black shirt. He is singing into a microphone and holding an acoustic guitar.
Image credit: Scott Pinpep

Tom


An ode to being alive, its beauty and menace, and the trying world of fame: How I’m Feeling Now is too stylish for the story it’s telling – the endearing, roaring lion that is Lewis Capaldi, and his emotions.


Capaldi is a rockstar with a stay-young-forever quest akin to Peter Pan’s. Here is a poet of the soul, open about his imposter syndrome and, as of September ‘22, diagnosed Tourette’s.


With my reviewer jacket on and care as always my priority, I’m unsure that letting cameras in is wholly supportive to Capaldi’s struggles. Such is our culture’s problem, not his, it feels like media and content is our only point of reference to learn about people’s experiences.


A justification (and I think this is the best stuff, even with disorientating production choices) is the film’s back-and-forth contrast between Capaldi’s village life – the chippy; drinks with mates – and the colossal Hollywood-equivalent of the music industry, where LA and crowds of thousands are like bread and butter. I mention throwing visuals, well, there’s the big white capital letters to introduce his hometown of WHITBURN. It's this exactly that must be so confusing for him: raising his wee home to such heights, and him returning there with his name now all over the world.


Editorially, such choices leave me frustrated with Netflix. How does Capaldi want to share his life with us – does he even want to? Maybe I’m naïve, since given the access we’ve been granted, he must be game. But him saying that he ‘feels like I’m on Eastenders’ suggests doubt.


There are also lights amongst the dark (that I’ll leave you to see for yourself).


Capaldi declares to us his love for ‘realists’, and ‘the patter [his hometown’s] people have’, aware ‘we’ll probably fuck it up while we do [life].’ There he truly is, with his values for the small and cosy things which life gifts to us, a peace I forever wish for him. Musically, his songs find this feeling, and their peak, when they are hopeful and he’s a ‘happy chappy’ (and points for Capaldi’s dad there, his words).


With a road taken as very much himself, and an encouraging email about working through battles from Elton John – Capaldi’s path is an admirable one. For all my eyebrow raising at this documenting of such a rough year, he chooses four months to pause on writing, and work on his mental health – and so the documentary pauses.


Still, this piece feels like an X-factoring account made too soon, finding its true groove when focused on the music – songs’ conceptions, a meeting to judge what’s a single and, most beautifully, clips of a crowd singing Capaldi’s ‘Bruises’ back to him, coining his smile.


People will understand your art.


Capaldi’s song ‘The Pretender’, is played to his parents after it was recorded. It is moments like these that may feel relatable to the maker (they did to me): diving into creativity to escape, reflect, summarise, even protest; the loneliness that can leave you; and how you’ll want people you love to understand it – maybe they won’t. Somehow, those who don’t know you personally will.


The key thing to remember is that it’s no creator’s duty to lay everything to us.


Keep singing, Lewis. It’s there we’ll understand.



A black and white illustration of Lewis Capaldi, standing with his hands in his pockets looking to the right of the frame, he is inside an illustrated explosion
Artwork by @ellxamcd_art


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