Jake William Capistran is the first to say it: His debut record All Things Human “is a rollercoaster.”
After getting his footing with a pair of EPs that showed off his ability to write catchy yet vivid tunes, the Portland-based singer-songwriter continues his impactful narrative—and further stretches his legs—on his first full-length effort.
Capistran’s most sonically expansive effort to date, there are horns and in-your-face political commentary, intimate brooding featuring a string section, and buoyant, feel-good singalongs that’ll leave you floating,
While the record’s title comes from a notion he had as a 15-year-old “staring out the right rear window of his family’s neon blue Ford Explorer,” now twice the age, he’s most definitely added to his life experiences and, more importantly, found productive ways to unabashedly celebrate (both earnestly on “So Good” and somewhat morbidly on “We’re All Gonna Die!”), be emotionally vulnerable (“Need Love”), and even get profanely topical ("Grab A Brick”).
“‘Talk About It’ is likely the oldest [song] on the record,” Capistran tells. “I wrote that guitar line in high school trying to emulate the intro to the song ‘Germany to Germany’ by Ratatat.” The same guitar part also appeared on “my song ‘Runnin’’ from The Rodeo EP. Yes, it’s really the same guitar part,” albeit with new complexities. But in the end, Capistran stripped it down to its elements thanks to the advice of local musician and author Nick Jaina from his book Get It While You Can.
“It says: ‘Don’t write songs for musicians.’ He goes on to say something to the effect of: Write songs for the people who will actually listen to them! Real, everyday, average, amazing human beings who don’t give a shit if you didn’t use any fancy chords or literary references.” And thus we have a beautifully relatable song for anyone who’s ever been in argument with a loved one.
The subsequent “Mirror” is a tale of self-awareness and reflection. “We are our toughest critics, and we can be so harsh to ourselves, so critical of every little blemish and flaw and everything we’ve ever done,” Capistran explains. “And I wanted to erase that, I wanted to write a song that would undo all that shit and celebrate someone, or give permission for someone to celebrate themselves, the way they’re celebrated by their friends and family.”
“And as I began writing, I realized that this was as much a letter to myself as it was to anyone else,” he continues. Featuring some great horns from the likes of Noah Simpson on trumpet, Denzel Mendoza on trombone, and bass player Sam Arnold also on bass trombone, “I quickly realized that I was so fixated on writing and finishing this song because I needed to hear it most.”
Full of love, a little bit of anger and a lot of working things out, All Things Human was tracked over the course of a week with Capistran and his four-piece band at The Map Room and Dead Aunt Thelma’s. Produced by Rola Music’s Dominik Schmidt with engineer Sacha Muller, and ultimately mastered by Dana White at Specialized Mastering, this is Capistran’s most honest look at the human condition—and, in turn, himself.