“I never found what I wanted to get, but I found that it’s true that you are what you do.” Joe Kaplow nails a zen perception to process. His new single, “I Said I Was Going And I Went”, is a refreshingly simple route to honesty. This is the account of a road-weary man removed from the things that bring tiny comforts to life.
Lyrically, Kaplow cascades through the small aspects of living that make living worth while. He doesn’t point so much at material accomplishment. The turning of a doorknob in his home becomes a metaphor for something larger opening. The description of his toaster fills the air with the smell of crusty bread. These are artifacts that represent tiny, heartwarming recalibration. They are not things examined in a vacuum or elevated onto pedestals.
Kaplow is an artist who brings details of a universe that’s more felt than observed. There are moments of incredible intimacy that cleverly undermine the globally reaching lines, “The world is an empty house with all the lights on and no one around” is brought down to the human scale, a sleep on a couch, and a desire to simply scrub the floors.
Imagist lines flow like a sequence of haiku (in spirit, not in structure) and yet the Santa Cruz native keeps to his colloquial dialect, so whilst there’s poetry it’s the everyday poetry of a man simply being honest about the shit he’s got going on.
Production of “I Said I Was Going And I Went” marries well with the spare folk structure. The hiss of air between larynx and microphone is captured, and the effect is, at times, devastatingly intimate. A spare approach to phrasing is conjured by the tempo, a kind of melancholia set in. By the time the trombone swells up beneath the acoustic guitar it’s hard to keep eyes dry.
Joe Kaplow is heading out on the road again. Between now and December 1st he’s playing a bunch of intimate stages around his home state of California. If possible, you should go out and see a show. Take him some home made cookies. Go and share.
HURRY – LISTEN – JOE KAPLOW