Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Joe Stilwell: ‘I’ve Got a Song or Two’

Calder the Band member releases solo EP

Calder the Band's Joe Stilwell has released a solo EP.

J. Hubner

Whatzup Features Writer

Published December 21, 2022

Singer-songwriter Joe Stilwell has been making a name for himself on the Fort Wayne music scene the last few years. 

First, it was in the indie-pop band Brother Gene, which transitioned into Calder the Band. The latter just released a new and amazing full-length album, Shape Up, in October. If you haven’t heard it, you really should.

Well, not one to just coast a bit and enjoy the fruits of his musical labor, Stilwell decided to release some solo tracks. 

Those tracks are collected on the four-song EP I’ve Got a Song or Two, a record that shows Stilwell continuing to hone his songwriting. It’s full of catchy melodies, wistful moods, and songs for contemplative moments.

Listening to I’ve Got a Song or Two, I’m reminded of bands like Real Estate, Chris Cohen, Shy Boys, and Ducktails (aka Matt Mondanile). 

Stilwell is coming from the tradition of classic ’70s singer-songwriters with songs that are personal and emotional and wear their hearts on their sleeves. You hear that in Stilwell’s work with Calder the Band, and you definitely hear it in his solo work. 

Though steeped in the classic singer-songwriter tradition, I’ve Got a Song or Two has modern production values and feels very prescient.

The songs go by quickly here but leave their mark. Opener “Ordinary” is breezy and content like a summer daydream. Touches of New Jersey’s Real Estate echo in the melancholy lean, while the slide guitar brings to mind ’70s stalwarts America (of “Sister Golden Hair” fame) and George Harrison.

Stilwell’s secret weapon, besides great melodies, is his vocals. He possesses a fantastic tenor that pulls you into the songs. The ornamentation of acoustic guitars, keys, and subtle drums gives the proceedings a timeless feel. “Protein” aches with melancholy, while “Right Right” sounds like a folksier version of Coldplay. Album closer “We’ll, It’s Awesome” aches in a sort of slow motion beauty.

I’ve Got a Song or Two further cements Stilwell’s musical presence, not only in The Fort, but at this point anywhere, with ornate, mature songs that beg repeated listens. Stilwell has come a long way in just a few years, and he doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

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