Cautious Clay 2023 photo

Signing with a legendary label like Blue Note Records carries both history and an expectation to stack up against artists such as Herbie Hancock and Thelonious Monk. Appropriately, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cautious Clay is moving into jazz for the lead single and video to his upcoming album, “Ohio.”


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Named after his home state and listed under his real name Joseph Karpeh, the Cleveland native typically walks the lines between pop, R&B, and rock, genres that are increasingly blurred together due to artists like Clay. But this isn’t new for him, having minored jazz in college and playing the saxophone during high school as part of a band. Currently between tour dates, picking things back up in July, the track comes just in time for Clay to switch gears and move into a genre he was always meant to play.

“Ohio” brings Clay home in more ways than one, predominantly featuring a woozy bassline at the forefront while the drums and drone follow its lead. There’s also a faint flute heard in fleeting moments, which happens to be the first instrument Clay learned. Sharing similarities to other jazz contemporaries, he strips away the inclusion of brass instruments for an almost drowsy state of mind. The result works in his favor, updating typical jazz conventions and keeping it in line with R&B music he’s previously released.

artist to watch in 2023

The visuals are just as laidback as the song, completely embodying the sun-drenched atmosphere of the track. Spliced with footage of Clay performing the song in a home studio, the video shows him wandering around the state, hitchhiking and trying to find his way. Each shot is vibrant and full of air, looking delectable in every sense of the word. The same is true for “Ohio,” marking an exciting direction that’s not as new as it might seem. But Clay proves he knows how to keep the music fresh and lush enough to look forward to an entire jazz album.

Words: David Sosa

“Ohio” by Cautious Clay is out on all streaming services. Tickets to his US tour are still available for July and fall dates. For more on his upcoming album, follow him on Instagram, TikTok, and his website.


May 27 – BottleRock Napa Valley – Napa, CA
May 28 – August Hall – San Francisco, CA
July 6 – Summerfest – Milwaukee, WI
July 8 – 80/35 Music Festival – Des Moines, IA
Aug. 6 – Newport Jazz Festival – Newport, RI
Aug. 19 – SummerStage – New York, NY
Aug. 20 – In Between Days Festival – Quincy, MA
Aug. 26 – Evolution Festival – St. Louis, MO
Oct. 1 – Sounds On Sound Festival – Bridgeport, CT

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