After 14 singles, a Taylor Swift sample, and his music being featured in multiple mediums like TV and movies, Cautious Clay released his first full-length album on June 25th. The 14 track Deadpan Love is a beautifully crafted testament of the songwriter’s ability to bend genres and influences to unify those elements in one cohesive structure.
“I kind of thought of the album as a little bit of hold and cold, it starts of the first 7 tracks being fiery out the gate and then it mellows out with songs like ‘Roots’ and ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Bumpstock’ and ‘Spinner’ which are more of a cooldown. I really wanted to think about the album flowing well with the track order, it was super important to me,” Joshua Karpeh, the man behind Cautious Clay, says.
While the record shifts styles from one track to the next, Karpeh’s melodic voice flows over everything from the bouncy stop/start of “Roots” to the driving chorus of “Dying in the Subtlety”. As a kid who grew up playing instruments like flute and saxophone, his natural talent for harmony between voice and instrument shines through on the new release.
Deadpan Love also represents a great step forward for Karpeh lyrically. He’s created worlds that pull the listener in between the settings he’s instilled and the allure of his voice working to soothe the ear. On “Roots,” he reminds us to cherish the small moments of serenity against the backdrop of the grand uncertainty of life.
“I’ve always loved to write, and loved to express myself through writing, and so I think mixing that with just my music and loving music so much and those two worlds colliding were how I crafted what I call Cautious Clay,” Karpeh said.
It’s abundantly clear that Karpeh has had time to reflect on the relationships in his life and brings their importance to life in this ultimately comforting album. His music also has an undeniable relatability to it, a quality that has landed him spots in shows like Insecure, 13 Reasons Why, the FIFA 20 Official Soundtrack, and Olivia Wilde’s 2019 film Booksmart.
“I feel like my music has somehow translated to those types of things, and it’s always a process because I don’t always know how people interpret my music but I want to make it special in the context of film,” Karpeh said. “It’s not always what I expect but it’s always a pleasant surprise.”
He finished recording six covers and two original songs for the drama series Godfather of Harlem back in March, and said he’d love to continue doing scoring work for shows and movies.
“I genuinely like the idea of being like, ‘Oh, yeah, this works so well with this scene.’ I feel like I play a translator a lot.”