Leah Capelle – Joshua
This is a mesmerizing follow up to Windy City based singer/songwriter Leah Capelle’s self-titled debut. The three song sophomore release Joshua features the same sympathetic and often poetic songwriting sensibility listeners heard on her first effort while developing new depths that make this material an even more rewarding experience. The personal touch Capelle brings to her art makes the listening experience an even richer affair without saddling the tracks with self-indulgent moments or an inordinate amount of pretense. These are deceptively simple compositions that are, nevertheless, quite accessible. They are driven by evocative melodies that never overstretch and stay focused on every necessary note and never a single more. The production fields a variety of instruments and textures with impressive facility and an ear for judiciously balancing those elements yet weaving musical tapestries capable of lingering with the audience. Joshua is as fine of a release as you’ll yet hear in 2017.
Its quality is readily apparent in the opener “Joshua”. The EP’s title song is an monumentally impressive bit of song craft with lyrics, vocals, and a musical arrangement that works in perfect sympathy with one another. Capelle’s voice dominates the performance, but never in a repressive way. Instead, she enlivens the great lyrical content without ever over-stressing the words at the music’s expense. The guitar work on the song is particularly notable thanks to its clean, melodic lines, but the drumming stands out here as elsewhere. “Out Now” has a similar design as the first song, but Capelle and her musical collaborators arrive at the final result with much different style than they exhibited on the first song. The key to this track is how the dynamics play off against each other. The contrast of the quiet passages with a rousing chorus comes off exceptionally well thanks in no small part to the song’s drumming contributions. It isn’t a question of what the drums do, but when they do it and they accentuate all the right points on this song for maximum effect.
“Who I Am” concludes the EP on a stirring peak. The rock and roll power harnessed by her accompanying musicians gives this song an unique flavor compared to the first two tracks and it’s a welcome change of pace. Once again, Capelle and her band distinguish themselves in a big way thanks to their restraint – this could easily descend into posing and cheap pandering, but Capelle and the players keep everything above board and never make a mockery of the song’s emotional bent. It follows much of the same trajectory heard in earlier songs, but the different texture makes an enormous difference and the chorus is, arguably, the EP’s punchiest. Joshua is quite a satisfying listen from beginning to end and as accessible of a release as you’ll hear this year. Leah Capelle’s inviting voice lures us in from the start and she puts everything over with convincing authority.
9 out of 10 stars