AFROPUNK ATL: THE SOFT BRIGHTNESS OF CAUTIOUS CLAY
By Yoh Phillips
October 22, 2019
Cautious Clay walked upon his first-ever AFROPUNK stage as pale, colorless clouds lingered above on a Sunday afternoon. The Cleveland-born singer-songwriter stood un-phased by Atlanta’s chilly Autumn. He wore a bright orange crewneck, a vibrant choice that combated the shades of gray. As Clay began to sing, the melodies carried a refreshing warmth that was like a shot of D’Usse on an empty stomach. The crowd seemed comforted by every note.
Comforting is also the best way to describe Cautious Clay’s performance. He has a voice that is gentle, weightless, allowing his pop-R&B to grace eardrums like a pillow bursting with feathers. Musically, the layered instrumentation of his productions is full of soothing, oscillating textures. The admiring audience followed every lyric and chord while their bodies swayed from left to right.
There is a slowness to the 23-year-old vocalist that’s easy to be arrested by. The tempos were unhurried, and the energy remained mellow throughout his turn on stage, a winning contrast with the tender vocals. Instead of inspiring moshing and movement, his music encouraged slowing down and listening. There’s a patience to the way he sings, but also the way he walks the stage, relaxed and poised.
Even though the weather said otherwise, Cautious Clay’s set was a slice of paradise on a dreary afternoon. But then, as he played a few riffs from his saxophone, the clouds began to part. Autumn didn’t magically become summer, yet after his performance, the warmth of his songs continued to blanket the crowd. As he walked off to their gracious applause, the stage appeared much brighter than when he began.