Joey Cape - Stitch Puppy (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Joey Cape

Stitch Puppy (2015)

Fat Wreck Chords

It has been five years since Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape has put out a solo album, which is understandable, given his numerous projects. The long-awaited (at least it was long awaited for me; five years, by some comparisons, isn’t too long) Stitch Puppy does not disappoint. It’s a further development in Cape’s singing and songwriting, and it hits its mark.

Lagwagon’s latest album, Hang, was, as the title and album cover imply, a dark album. Stitch Puppy has a dark side to it as well, but anyone who has any experience with Joey Cape’s previous solo albums won’t be too surprised by this. The album, inspired by a doll made for him by his daughter, Violet, features the kind of cynical point of view that rears its head in Hang, as well. Joey Cape has opinions and views about the state of the world and its future, and he’s not afraid to let them permeate his music, leaving us with chilling and memorable melodies.

The switch between Lagwagon and acoustic solo music is a big one. In Stitch Puppy we once again get to hear the softer side of Cape’s vocals, which are a perfect fit with the melancholy chord progressions of the tracks on the album. The acoustic guitar and vocal combo is aided and augmented by piano, cello, percussion and mandolin to create Cape’s signature and haunting sound.

The album is, on the whole, an excellent one. It does, of course, have its highlights, too. “This Life Is Strange,” the second track on the album, is, perhaps, one of the loudest and fullest songs. It has a video, too, featuring the aforementioned doll made for Cape, directed by Joey himself. “Cope,” despite its relatively upbeat tempo, certainly belongs to the darker side of the album, featuring such despairingly relatable lines as “I promise I’ll visit you the day, I find the words to convey hope.” “Spill My Guts” features guest vocals from Chris Cresswell of the Flatliners, a pairing which works wonderfully on the song. “Moral Compass,” too, fits into the darker, cynical side of things: it’s a critique of the fearful and hateful worldview passed on to children, but it isn’t straight cynicism. “Moral Compass” holds onto hope, presenting a different way.

Stitch Puppy doesn’t have any particular weak spot. It's an incredibly personal album, everything laid bare. The songs weren't overly questioned, and the editing decisions were gut decisions. This fact furthers just how personal the tracks feel. The songs flow together nicely, and whether or not you’re listening closely for the full, deeper effect, it is an enjoyable listen. I know it’s everything I’ve been waiting for from Joey Cape.