Review: Cautious Clay at The Back Room


Much to my surprise, Cautious Clay’s original location of Turner Hall Ballroom was moved to The Back Room at Colectivo. This contributed largely to how successful this show was. Selling out at The Back Room in no time Cautious Clay performed fantastically and with as much ease and cool as you’d come to expect. The singer-songwriter played his show as fine-tuned as his sound. Which comes off raw and painful but soulful to the point of you can relate to or at least want to. 

The Band

Joshua Kareph, better known as Cautious Clay has only been active in the music world for the past 4 years and in that time he’s released 4 EPs and more than a handful of singles. Born in Cleveland, OH, Cautious Clay styles his music after hip hop with a tinge of electronic and sometimes a little vice versa. His voice is gravely and yet smooth that pairs perfectly with his backup band that help Cautious really stand out. The man of many talents, Joshua mixes his sets with saxophone solos, flute, solos, back up guitar and soulful vocals.

The Experience

The crowd filled in The Back Room’s space perfectly, like Cautious Clay was meant to play there. As he took the stage the mostly college student filled audience roared for Cautious Clay. Right as the show started it was clear that he was excited to be there and play for this crowd. Albeit having a very humble on stage presence, he commanded his room with ease. It was one of those shows where everyone eas moving in some capacity without even realizing it. 

As the show went on Cautious clay began to become even more comfortable with his set. Pulling out his other instruments halfway through songs was a welcome treat that I wasn’t expected. In some of his songs as he finished the singing portion, he’d put down his guitar and begin to play the saxophone in a jazzy, impromptu riff. Channeling his inner Lizzo he even played flute on more than one occasion. Cautious Clay never stopped pulling out these surprises as the show went on and not once did it feel forced or unwelcomed. 

One of the biggest things that stood out to me was his vocal range. When I listen to him in studio versions it sounds slightly tuned up, something I wish he’d stop. His natural vocals are both rough and at the same time so smooth, with range differing in parts of the songs. It may have been my favorite part of listening to him live, kind of a MTV Unplugged type vibe that made you feel truly a part of his songs and the raw feeling he put in them could be felt. It was something I haven’t experienced in a long time and was blown away when I heard him singing. 

His aforementioned backup band played great. Never overstepping their boundaries and allowing him to show that this was his conception and they were there merely for the ride. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way but this show was about Cautious Clay and the songs he crafted. The overall vibe was gritty, filled with soul and left you wanting for more.

The Verdict

As a newer artist I’ve been listening to, I was extremely happy with how this show turned out. The crowd was heavily invested in Cautious Clay and danced when he told them to dance, and when he didn’t say anything they still danced. It was one of those shows where you wanted to be a part of the experience with everyone. The sound was fantastic and filled the room without feeling too much like a coffee shop. Overall it felt different and welcoming at the same time. I’m excited to see where he takes his sound and am excited to see him again when he comes back. 

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