When Brie Capone talks about her roots in music, she can seem a little impressionable.
“I had a very serious crush on John Mayer, and he went to Berklee,” Capone said. “For me, that was definitely a marker of ‘Oh, musicians go to Berklee.’ OK, I should definitely do that if I want to do this fulltime.”
And years later, she recorded her debut album at Asheville’s Echo Mountain studios because she learned the band Dawes recorded “Stories Don’t End” album there.
“I had this moment of ‘Well, I love this band, I love this music, Echo Mountain is literally 15 minutes away from my house, I think I’m going to save up enough to record at Echo Mountain,’” Capone said. “And at least I’ll have an anchor, that I’ll know what to do after this point.”
But Capone also describes herself as a diva, and she determined not long ago to peel away from life in bands and nurture her own voice. “If I Let You In” is a new album of songs inspired by unrequited love.
Capone has a handful of shows lined up through June in Tennessee, West Virginia and California, and she and her band celebrate the release of “If I Let You In” with a show May 5 at Isis Music Hall in Asheville.
“I think there’s a lot of me that didn’t quite develop socially, in some regard,” Capone said with a laugh. “Because of me just hiding in a room and writing music, in high school and some of college, kind of I went like ‘Oh, this is how you deal with this’ instead of hiding in a room and writing a song.”
Capone just turned 28, but so much of her music is rooted in the 1970s. It’s not just that she can pass for Carly Simon with her earthy whispers and full-bodied expressions, but it’s also the sound of her music. You can hear it in the tone of the piano, the strings, even the cymbals.
“By the time I was 5 or 6, I pretty much had ‘Gypsy’ memorized, the Broadway show. That was on repeat in the household, that or ‘Funny Girl,’” Capone said. “”JJ, my younger sister, and I would play dress-up in whatever our mother let us wear and use shampoo bottles as microphones.”
Capone was 14 when her family moved from Massachusetts to Asheville. She went back to Massachusetts to study at Berklee College of Music and tasted modest success in New York City singing with the pop band Humble Grapes. She on her birthday in 2016, she hopped in her Kia with her Casio keyboard and a few boxes, determined to make her own music in Asheville.
“A lot of my music, I just want the total say over what this music is going to sound like, and I’m not sure I want to write with anybody for a while,” she said. “I’m neurotic and I think I just felt I’d learned a lot from everyone around me and think I just want to try this solo and see what happens.”
Most young artists today turn to crowdfunding sites. But Capone lived with her parents to save up what she estimates was close to $5,000 to make her debut album, titled, “Orbit,” at Echo Mountain.
“‘Orbit’ was a lot about having to leave people you love but feeling you’re going to see them again eventually, if they stay in your universe,” she said.
“If I Let You In” is a different brand of heartbreak and letting go.
“‘Enough,’ for example, is a song about just being sick with oneself and dealing with things the same way,” Capone said. “And dealing with it either through drinking or letting your heart bleed out all over the place and not really taking the responsibility of “Alright, he just doesn’t like you. Get over it.’”
While the album is new, the songs are well over a year old, and Capone said she wants to write more songs with universal appeal and find other ways for dealing with social anxiety beyond writing music.
“Evolve” was the first real song I’ve ever put out that was more about thoughts on how we treat one another than on anything really to deal with myself, which I’d like to develop that a lot more,” Capone said. “I’m never going to be totally tired of writing about myself, because I’m a diva, but yes, I’m getting a little tired of it.
The next marker of success for Capone? Moving out of her parents’ home and into a place of her own.
“This is all I’ve ever really wanted to do,” she said. “Anything that it takes to get this moving and put this in motion and continue to be an artist, to play and sing for people, I’ll do it.”