One of the most necessary traits of any musician is an unrelenting love of the art that keeps pulling them back to it time and time again.
This is a quality that Santa Cruz-based artist Joe Kaplow has in spades. In preparation for his sophomore album, Sending Money and Stems, he recently released the single “February Prorated Rent,” a harmony and harmonica-laden song as darkly soothing as it is energized.
Juxtaposed against a tambourine and strumming guitar, Kaplow asks his subject to “lay [him] down broken and bent,” because “every year gets worse.” The layers of vocals are drawn out in unhurried verses, entrapping the listener within the laid back beachy world his music lives in. This song exists on a sunny day overshadowed by heavy clouds, misleading in its apparent joviality, but reassuring in its vulnerable honesty.
The title of the upcoming album derives from two places. Firstly, how it was made: Kaplow would exchange raw audio files, also known as “stems,” with mix engineer Mike Coykendall, and give him a heads up that another song was on its way, along with its payment. In addition, he also considers music to be his “currency for life.”
Expanding upon this idea, he says on his website, “We all have something, or a few things that we do, we work at, we commit to and that’s how we pay for our time here.” Music, then, is how he feels he best pays for his time on Spaceship Earth. The combination of his view and work ethic amid the pandemic, not to mention over twenty years of perfecting his craft, provide the right ingredients for a dedicated musician who can find success through their art.
Kaplow blends the beautifully simplistic melodies of Vance Joy and Hobo Johnson’s raw, captivating voice, providing catchy yet deep songs full of truth and poetry. He experiments with production without over-complicating the songs, giving them an interesting edge while maintaining a recognizable indie-Americana sound.
Sending Money and Stems is releasing April 30th, 2021 under Fluff and Gravy Records. Fans can expect the songs to be “more band oriented, more groove based, more uptempo, more hifi, and more happy go lucky than his previous work.”