Cautious Clay: Tiny Desk Concert The charismatic singer and saxophonist brought a group of longtime friends to play a warm, thoughtful and chill set at the Tiny Desk.

Tiny Desk

Cautious Clay

He came to the Tiny Desk with friends, a lot of friends. In fact, Josh Karpeh, best known in the music world as Cautious Clay, put together a backing vocal ensemble of friends he's known since his days as a music student at The George Washington University here in D.C. And so, with five singers - along with a drummer, keyboardist and a bassist - Cautious Clay brought a warm, thoughtful and chill vibe to the Tiny Desk.

I was first struck by Cautious Clay's charismatic spirit at a sold-out show in D.C. earlier this year. And while I was already captivated by his seemingly effortless singing, with hints of James Blake and Sampha, when he picked up his saxophone and, later, a flute, I was won over by his rich sound-palette. Here at the Tiny Desk, Cautious Clay opens with "Cold War," a song that I interpret to be about commitments within relationships. The line, "In it for the monetary growth and power / But we divided at the bottom of this whiskey sour" shows the humor and insight that I love in his lyrics.

There's good reason why I'm so certain that this little-known artist will be well-known in the coming year: he's a bright talent, exploring music with a curiosity and invention that is genuine, without pretense and with intentions that aren't aimed at fame but rather meant for friends.

Set List

  • "Cold War"

  • "Call Me"

  • "Stolen Moments"

Musicians

Josh Karpeh (Guitar/vocals/Saxphone/flute), Chris Kyle (Guitar/bass guitar), Francesco Alessi (Drums), Eric Lane (Keyboard/keybass), Sanna Taskinen (vocals), Marianne Khattar (vocals), Sam East (vocals), Claire Miller (vocals), Michael Ferrier (vocals)

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Maia Stern; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Bronson Arcuri, Kara Frame, Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Brie Martin; Photo: Emily Bogle/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Y La Bamba plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Y La Bamba

Y La Bamba returns for its second Tiny Desk performance with a revised musical vision.

Nilüfer Yanya plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Nilüfer Yanya

There's a hush to the music of Nilüfer Yanya that made the Tiny Desk the perfect stage for her sound.

Rhiannon Giddens plays a Tiny Desk Concert on July 17, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Rhiannon Giddens

Giddens shares songs from her latest album, There is No Other, in an emotional and transfixing performance at the Tiny Desk.

Come From Away plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Aug. 12, 2019 (Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR

Come From Away

Sixteen performers from the Broadway cast crammed behind the Tiny Desk to sing songs and share stories about thousands of airline passengers who were stranded in Newfoundland after 9/11.

Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley

With eyes shut, Marley dug deep into the healing power of music with songs from his 2017 album Stony Hill.

The Tallest Man On Earth plays a Tiny Desk Concert on July 10, 2019. Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

The Tallest Man On Earth (2019)

The Tallest Man On Earth's second appearance at the Tiny Desk comes almost 10 years to the day after his first. He returns with a touch of grey and a beard, but no less intense or moving.

A-WA plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Bob Boilen/NPR). Bob Boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bob Boilen/NPR

A-WA

The three Israeli sisters in A-WA mix Yemenite and Arabic traditions with splashes of reggae and hip-hop.

The-Dream plays a Tiny Desk Concert on April 12, 2019 (Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltrán Villamizar/NPR

The-Dream

The singer and mega-hit songwriter showcases three of his own tracks, including "I Luv Your Girl" and two songs from Ménage à Trois: Sextape Vol. 1, 2, 3.

Dan Tepfer plays a Tiny Desk concert on July 30, 2019 (Olivia Falcigno/NPR). Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Dan Tepfer

The pianist and programmer has transformed the acoustic piano into his duet partner.

47SOUL plays a Tiny Desk Concert on July 1, 2019 (Bob Boilen/NPR). Bob Boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bob Boilen/NPR

47SOUL

47SOUL's message of equality is meant for the world. It's music without borders, mixing old and new, acoustic and electronic from a band formed in Amman Jordan, singing in Arabic and English.

Back To Top