One of my favorite parts of music is the opportunity it gives artists to be vulnerable.
Expressing yourself for who you truly are can be intimidating, which is why most people hide their darkest feelings and thoughts away into a journal or a sketchbook. Or they don’t express it all and bottle it up until it inevitably bursts (been there, done that). Songwriters, on the other hand, find expressing themselves through melodies and lyrics more therapeutic than anything else. Why do you think the age old love song genre hasn’t quite died yet? Music lovers never seem to tire of a good emotional confession.
Leah Capelle, an alternative pop/rock artist, said in an interview with Vents Magazine, “I want people who listen to my music to feel like they know me. I lay everything out on the table – I don’t ever write music that doesn’t relate to either what I’m going through or what my loved ones experience – so I deeply want to develop closeness with my fans”. When songwriters like Leah give these creations to the world, this is often their goal, but they can’t really predict whether or not their listeners will identify with or understand their struggles. They just release their songs and hope. Capelle took this leap with her song “Settle Down”, and it’s safe to say it resonated with me and – I imagine – many others.
The Giants EP by Leah Capelle is the first album she’s released since her self titled debut in 2015. She’s released a handful of singles, but this project has been highly anticipated and in the works for some time. Settle Down is anthemic, providing all too relatable lyrics and a metaphorical shoulder to cry on for those who have nowhere else to turn besides their own music playlists. The song is all about the different factors of loneliness, insecurity, and the way expectations of society affect both of those things. Describing this song, Leah writes, “Writing ‘Settle Down‘ was an act of catharsis for me. I’ve always been a fairly upbeat, smiling person who can process feelings and experiences fairly quickly. But honestly, the last couple of years have been tougher than most. If anything, ‘Settle’ is a letter to myself – a reminder that things WILL get better in time”.
If I had to describe this song, on the other hand, I would say it’s the perfect song to blast in your car, windows open, and the sun setting, but you must be alone and you must be sad (listening to sad songs to make yourself sadder is a rite of passage right?).
The song begins with an echoey piano melody, set with an almost synthesized pop effect, and a soft hum in the background. These delicate sounds lead you to believe you are in for something more acoustically raw and laid back, but slowly the song begins to build. A faint cymbal, a kick drum, a lower musical harmony, an angelic higher harmony sung by Capelle herself. There’s a full drum kit and an electric guitar by the second verse. What you think is going to be a lightweight, easy going ballad ends up being a heavy, layered lament; it’s a transition that truly reflects the lyrics. The song takes a complete 180 turn after the second chorus; there is a fiercely intense guitar solo, a crashing of the drums – and what began as indie pop song becomes something alternative, almost rock.
As the genre switches, so do Capelle’s vocals. While she began with understated, mellow singing to match the piano, she turned to passionate belting reminiscent of Hayley Williams of Paramore. This song really shows off her wide vocal range in this way: her lower register, her falsetto, and her dynamic chest voice.
Settle down girl, watch the clouds kiss the mountain peaks.
“Settle down” will be repeated often (it is the title, after all), but the repetition just makes it a much more powerful reminder to calm down when you feel like you are about to break. Come down from the high of emotions. Watching the clouds over the mountain emphasizes this idea, as it’s a good soothing technique.
Settle down girl, let the salt dry there on your cheeks.
Let your tears dry, girl. Don’t cry. Don’t let yourself fall apart.
And turn around girl, feel the ocean tide wash away the gloom.
Shift your focus onto something beautiful. Let it take you away from the darkness.
Turn around girl, and give into blue.
Give into your sadness. Admit what you are feeling is real and accept it. Own it.
How do I fall in love when everyone is only hooking up?
How do I fall asleep when no one is dreaming of me?
Society has abandoned the idea of monogamy and relationships and instead embraced freedom. She is craving more than this, more than a physical connection. She wants something loyal and committed, real and honest.
And she feels like she must have that love in order to really live. She can’t sleep, can’t go on without it.
Make sure to breathe, girl. The air is sweet, it will fill you.
Make sure to breathe, girl, when you leave the room.
Breathing is brought in as another soothing technique. It means quite the same as the title “Settle Down”. Keep on breathing as you move forward through your life.
And try to smile girl, if only for a little.
Try to smile girl – you will get better.
On this line, “you will get better”, the music climaxes into a really triumphant moment. It’s very clear Capelle is trying to emphasize the phrase.
Things will be good again. Life is more than just this moment. This feeling is temporary.
Oh, how do I find myself, when everyone, everyone is telling me who to be?
How do I ask for help when no one is listening?
Society has decided on the “right” way to act and live, and there’s pressure to conform to that, but she wants to be who she truly is. “Everyone” is pressuring her, where as “no one” is listening. It’s a beautiful contrast. She feels as if no one is really hearing her, and they don’t care enough to. No one is there to help.
So you’ve finished the song. I know you were crying (don’t lie to me). Here’s what you do next: Clean up your used tissues. Wipe off that smeared mascara. Grab a paintbrush, a pen, a guitar, a sketchbook, whatever you need. Start creating. Be your own Leah Capelle. Settle down and get vulnerable. You will get better.