Caravan return with the release of their first new album since Paradise Filter in 2013. They have continued to burn the Canterbury scene flame, combining jazz, folk and melodic rock elements which bridge the gap between psychedelia and progressive rock. It’s None of Your Business features nine new songs plus one instrumental which have been influenced, to a degree, by the events and restrictions placed on society over the last 18 months. This is a theme that occurs in many releases these days, and that is understandable, but Caravan have approached it with warmth and their trademark musical style in an almost sensitive way.
What differs here is that this album was recorded, as restrictions allowed, between June and July 2021 at Rimshot Studio near Sittingbourne, in what may be called the “old fashioned way”, in a large sound room with all band members sitting together in a circle with eye contact. As singer and guitarist Pye Hastings explained, “I much prefer this method because you can bounce ideas off each other as they occur, and voice encouragement when the whole thing begins to click”. Amusingly, he also added “and it is much more rewarding to be able to throw insults at each other in person rather than down a telephone line or via email. This is something we are all very experienced at, believe me!”
Caravan have a long recording history against which new releases are naturally going to be measured, and often unfairly judged, with conclusions that they sometimes do not match the standards of the classic albums. For me, this is unfair as all bands develop and change through time and each album should be judged on its own merit. What caravan do well is hold on to their trademark sound whilst keeping it sounding fresh. This album is just that, no retro sounding release here, just the Caravan sound in a modern setting, in keeping of the times, you might say.
Things get off to a start with Down from London in the characteristic bright Caravan style, Geoffrey Richardson’s viola leading the song to start and adding embellishments throughout with some humorous lyrics. Off to a fine start. This is a cheerful song with the trademark tongue-in-cheek element, repeated on If I Was to Fly later on in the album.
In contrast to this are two tracks which appear to have been inspired by the current pandemic and recent events. The first, Spare a Thought, is a touching and almost delicate song, led at the start by acoustic guitar which is joined by flute and viola. With the music and lyrics together it gives us an emotional remembrance of those who didn’t quite make it through these awful times, the song ending with these poignant words:
‘Til we get back on our feet again
So spare a thought for the friends we had
Who never quite made it through.
This is our song for you.”
In the next track, Every Precious Little Thing, they look at the things that we used to take for granted and reflect on how we should live in the moment, keeping the little things precious. Again, this is relevant to the situation we find ourselves in and should encourage us to cherish all we have.
The title track is the longest, It’s None of Your Business putting us into classic Caravan territory with a great ebb and flow and some great keyboards and guitar work, with strong bass support throughout. The sole instrumental track, Luna’s Tuna, closes the album in satisfying style, led by some beautiful viola from Richardson to create a fitting conclusion to the album.
Founder member Pye Hastings remains the principle songwriter and guiding light, surrounded by great musicians who have created a fine album which sits well within the extensive Caravan catalogue. If you like Caravan then this is well worth a listen, but if you’re new to the band, give it a go, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I mean, what’s not to like?
01. Down From London (4:04)
02. Wishing You Were Here (4:05)
03. It’s None of Your Business (10:04)
04. Ready or Not (4:57)
05. Spare a Thought (4:17)
06. Every Precious Little Thing (4:37)
07. If I was To Fly (3:32)
08. I’ll Reach Out to You (8:28)
09. There is You (4:38)
10. Luna’s Tuna (3:21)
Total Time – 52:07
Pye Hastings – Guitar, Vocals
Geoffrey Richardson – Viola, Mandolin, Guitar
Jan Schelhaas – Keyboards
Mark Walker – Drums
Lee Pomeroy – Bass
Jimmy Hastings – Flute
Record Label: Madfish
Formats: CD, LP, Download
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 8th October 2021