My first introduction to Leah Capelle’s self-titled EP came in my car, as I drove through pounding rain on a treacherous trip to the grocery store. While the deluge ate away at the thin veneer of dirt on my car’s roof, beautiful and warm music wafted from my car’s crackly speakers. In many ways, “driving in the rain” perfectly describes Leah Capelle: there are thunderclaps of excitement in every track, but the EP is also saturated with a familiar-feeling folksiness that, much like walls to hold back a torrential downpour, wraps up the listener in comforting warmth.
In many ways, Leah Capelle feels like the missing link between the Dixie Chicks and Simon & Garfunkel. From the former comes dramatic vocals and lyrics with a fusion of acoustic and electric instruments, while the latter provides delicately beautiful harmonies between the layered melodic lines in each track. But Leah Capelle manages to form its own identity by throwing a few pinches of pop-flavored seasoning into its musical gumbo. The second track, “In a Boat,” opens with a few subtle synthesizer notes as a prelude to a simple piano figure. Soon after, bass, glockenspiel, and backup vocals join the party, all building up to the introduction of drums as the second verse begins. The buildup feels very “pop-ish,” an impression that’s empowered by the synthesizer and bass, but the vocals have a rough sweetness more closely associated with folk music. The resultant sound is enticing and unique for fans of pop music, without being strange enough to alienate listeners who come to Leah Capelle solely for the promise of plentiful acoustic guitar.
But the magic of Leah Capelle is in the little details. In the first track, “Would You Know,” whenever the vocals go, “Would you know what I’m here for,” or “Would you know what I left for,” the vocal melody is parroted by acoustic guitar. It’s a small touch, but it caps off each line like an unusually beefy period at the end of a musical sentence, and maintains melodic movement in the momentary absence of vocals. Every track is rife with similar small touches that, overall, strengthen the impact of the album. Every song feels lovingly constructed.
It’s difficult to level any complaints against Leah Capelle’s self-titled EP. It aims to satisfy listeners who want folksy music with a modern tint, and in that regard, Leah Capelle is a rousing success. It’s welcoming, beautiful, and utterly enjoyable. The harmonies are thicker than molasses, the singing is powerfully lovely, and every track drips with careful construction. Everything in Leah Capelle works the way it’s meant to, and fans of acoustic music owe it to themselves to give it a try.
Images from LeahCapelle.com