Monday, March 20, 2017

Leah Capelle – Joshua

Leah Capelle – Joshua 

The three songs on Leah Capelle’s second EP Joshua are three fewer than appeared on her self-titled EP debut, but don’t mistake this as a dimming of her vision. Instead, Capelle’s skills and songwriting talents sound more distilled and refined on this follow-up. Her ability to get under the skin of a song is nearly unparalleled in our modern musical scene and are far more reminiscent of the facility shown by her avowed influences like Regina Spektor and the Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz as well as even greater icons like Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones. Capelle, however, is her own performer. There might be clear influences in what she does, but Capelle never fails to set herself far away from any mis-tagging as an imitator or glorified tribute artist. Jeff Bova’s production work on this release frames it in beautiful light and highlights each element of the three tracks.  

His work is likely no better than what we hear on “Joshua”. The EP’s title song ties all of its instrumental touches together in a sparkling web of melody and assertiveness, all of it played just right and never over-stressed. The lyrical content is equally powerful; there’s a ton of details she uses to get her songwriting over and the way she tackles the individual passages varies from line to line but keeps up a solid standard of excellence that any of her audience will admire. The guitar playing and rhythm section work gives tremendous melodic import to the song without ever overshadowing her vocals or songwriting in any way. Perhaps the song would have less impact if she’d opted for a flatter, less dramatic construction, but “Joshua” is memorable, if nothing else, for the way it steadily climbs to some thrilling heights. The EP’s second number, “Out Now”, has a much more restrained presentation but adopts the same principles of slow-burning verses culminating in an exciting chorus. The great care that she and her fellow musicians take during the verses really sets a memorable mood that the pulse-pounding chorus expands on and the unity of the song, as a whole,  

“Who I Am” closes Joshua with some rock guitar bite. The six string flourishes are never gratuitous or plagued with over-playing, but instead fit tightly in with the rest of her own. The rhythm section takes on a particularly effective strength here and lays down solid, yet never inert, bedrock for the rest of the band. The lyrical content is the EP’s best, right behind the title cut, and Leah Capelle delivers it with an added dramatic emphasis that makes this stand out as her best singing performance on this release. The song shows the same white-hot focus that makes the rest of the release fly and it serves as a very effective ending for Joshua. This short collection is a valuable second studio step in a career that seems destined to have a lot of longevity. Leah Capelle’s Joshua has variety, discipline, and passion to burn in an entertaining package. 

9 out of 10 stars 

Charles Hatton

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