LA-based singer-songwriter Leah Capelle is set to release her latest album, triptych, on April 3.
Her final single before the album dropped scored critical acclaim as “i keep her” was a personal coming out letter to herself and an ode to women exploring their sexuality (we also loved “On Accident”). Prior to the wide release of the album, Capelle wanted to give the readers of American Songwriter an exclusive look at how the album came to be.
In her own words, Capelle breaks down the genesis of triptych:
triptych LP – the story
I don’t remember exactly when it all started – probably months before I truly even realized – but in January of 2018, the pain started to rear its ugly head, to stretch and embed its tentacles into every aspect of my life, to become imminent. I was burnt out. I constantly occupied myself with work, with substances, with a wild social life, so as to never have to actually sit with myself. My partner at the time started coming home from work each night to find me with an empty wine bottle in my lap on the couch. Each weekend I would find some excuse to get fucked up, and then I would shudder and cry at the subtlest provocation. When my friends would ask me how I’d been, I would casually comment about how depressed I was, or how I was becoming an alcoholic – all with a crooked smile on my face, my bright green eyes faded, my freckled face pale.
But I was at the top of my class in school. I had a great, high-paying (but stressful) job that inspired me creatively. I was working on my third EP. I had just started coming out as bisexual with nothing but acceptance and support. I had a loving, long term, live-in partner, an amazing circle of friends, a tight-knit family, a beautiful and safe place to live. So the deeper down I fell, the harder I would try to convince myself that everything was fine, because everything should have been fine.
Ultimately, my depression-fueled, self-destructive behavior ended my relationship. The loss of my best friend, the person I thought would be my life-partner, knocked me back down harder than I had ever imagined. I spent a long time in complete denial about what had happened. Defensive and accusatory, I was completely unwilling to accept my share of the blame. I spun a victim’s tale of abandonment, perhaps to protect myself, perhaps to hurt myself even more… I’m still not sure. And in brief moments in which I was able to glimpse a more accurate depiction of the past, I spiraled back out of control. The people around me tried to console me at first, to guide me through my suffering – but the longer I mourned, the more inconsolable I became. The less they wanted to talk about it, the less I really listened.
I withdrew from everyone for about a year writing this record. The songs come from my depressive episodes, drug-induced evenings, broken-heart breakdowns, first dating experiences as an openly bisexual woman, and eventually, beautiful moments of acceptance and healing. ‘triptych,’ to me, is not just a breakup album. It’s the story of how I had to lose myself – to lose everything I held close – to find myself again. Talking about struggles with mental health and substance abuse amidst the context of a breakup is a delicate balance – and it remains difficult to determine if I was just heartbroken, or genuinely performing acts of escapism. But ultimately, I don’t think it really matters.
This is an album about life – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. I hope, in listening, it gives you even a fraction of the healing it has given me in creating it.
I’ve been sleeping with your keys – they help me not to dream
Pressed against my palms and digging in between
My fingertips are searching for you underneath the sheets
but you left me, you loved me, and you lost me.
Can’t look at myself in mirrors, ‘cause I won’t like what I’ll see
Can’t stand to hear my voice as it spills out from my teeth
I just picture us a triptych; a three part symphony
As you loved me, you lost me, and you left me.
You’ll try to be a stranger, a stoic shadow man
And I’ll be catatonic with my third drink in my hand
And as you sense me spiraling, please remember that
You lost me, you left me, but you loved me.