The first time Ardmore’s B.J. Capelli heard Hillary Wallace sing, it didn’t take long for him to realize that she was something special. “Within the first 30 seconds of the show, not only was I completely floored, but other audience members were staring openmouthed and reaching for their cell phones to capture it on video,” says Capelli.
“We knew immediately that Hillary was the real deal,” adds his wife, Leslie Poprik-Capelli. “The only thing missing was a keyboard player. But after seeing Hillary perform, it wasn’t a hard sell for them to convince me to join the band, too.”
Just like that, the piano instructor and her percussionist spouse became an integral part of Hillary Wallace and the Death, an eight-piece outfit specializing in an exceedingly current brand of original funk, rock, ska and soul. Wallace’s vocals are indeed stunning, finding common ground with the likes of Janis Joplin, Grace Potter and Amy Winehouse. “There’s no pretense,” says Poprik-Capelli. “She’s just doing her thing—and it sounds incredible.”
Set for release on Nov. 25, the band’s self-titled debut is unbelievably accomplished, given the fact that the band is less than two years old. Producer/guitarist Tyler Pursel discovered Wallace performing at an open-mike night in 2015. The two quickly struck up a creative partnership that netted enough songs for an album, which was made at Pursel’s Walnut Room Recordings in Mont Clare. “I knew her voice had an ageless quality that would suit the sort of music I was interested in making,” says Pursel. “I suggested that we put together a little band, which turned into a big band.”
In the lead-up to the album’s release, the group has played some select shows along the East Coast, with more dates in the works. Expect bigger and better things to come—so long as Wallace is feeding the beast, the Death couldn’t be more alive.