Monday, March 20, 2017

Leah Capelle – Joshua

Leah Capelle – Joshua

Produced by the same man helming her self-titled debut, Jeff Bova, Leah Capelle’s second EP Joshua re-establishes her as one of the most promising singer/songwriters working today and shows a clear evolution in both her performing and songwriting skills. This should be expected. The prodigy-like musical talents she showed at the age of six coupled with her extensive music education and a generous reservoir of passion come together to give her an edge in every area that her contemporaries and peers are often missing. The three songs compromising Joshua never adopt the same sound and, instead, come at the listener from a variety of angles while still showing shared characteristics. Capelle’s talents have earned her a place on many respected stages in the Chicago area and her talents have garnered raves from many quarters. Joshua proves that praise is fully justified. 

The title song proves it alone. “Joshua” is wide ranging, both musically and lyrically, and retains a sharply honed intelligence without ever losing sight of its mandate to entertain listeners. This ear-catching balance of priorities is something few performers or writers can pull off, but she’s shows considerable aplomb with doing so here. Nearly aspect of the musical performance deserves singling out for its excellence, but the guitar playing and drumming deserve particular notice thanks to the skillful way they pull the song in opposing, but satisfyingly complementary, directions. The guitar, especially, gives the song a lightly melodic touch that is quite memorable. Capelle’s vocal never shows any difficulty handling the phrasing and her voice stresses all the right details to help her audience understand and connect with the song. The second track, “Out Now”, is a song of survival that never over-exerts its need to resonate with listeners and drag the entire endeavor into histrionics and melodrama. It achieves a strong effect on the audience thanks to how well it varies between just the right amount of light, uncluttered space set against the song’s more dramatic and instrument-laden passages. The chorus, like elsewhere on Joshua, is very strong and brings home the song’s message with great vigor. 

The EP’s final track, “Who I Am”, is the true musical revelation on this release. Capelle’s songwriting takes on a much stronger rock and roll vibe here, but it’s solid Heartland rock that doesn’t overwhelm listeners with raw guitar muscle. The song isn’t long, but it shows the same patience and attention to layering we hear on the earlier duo of songs and it says a lot about the flexibility of her musical vision that she’s able to incorporate these alternative sounds into her singer/songwriter aimed compositions and they work without a hitch. Few artists can claim such a command over their own material, but it is clear that Capelle has outstanding chemistry with her collaborators and came into the studio for this release with a clear of how and what she wanted to accomplish. Joshua’s three songs attest to the clarity of that creative vision and bode well for her future.  

9 out of 10 stars 

Dale Butcher

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