It’s None of Your Business
Snapper · October 8, 2021
Caravan has come a long way since their debut 1968 self-titled album. The journey has led to their newest album, the first containing original material in several years, although it’s not a particularly exciting road stop. It’s None of Your Business displays incredible instrumentation and melodical prowess indicative of a long-time band that never really lost its touch despite multiple lineup changes, but at the same time is ultimately dulled by distracting, willowy vocal work.
Each song follows a similar pattern: it begins with a catchy hook that gets one excited for the song, but then Pye Hastings begins to sing in a voice that sounds like he’s trying to hold back from waking up his parents at midnight. The song continues, occasionally breaking out into masterful solos or moving thematic shifts, but the vocals just refuse to fit in. Hastings’ voice is neither bad nor amateurish; in songs like “Spare a Thought,” “There is You,” and a few moments in “Every Precious Little Thing” where the instruments aren’t too energetic, the whispery, lulling voice fits perfectly. However, in every other part of the album, the instruments are too bright and commanding to match. The one exception is “Ready or Not,” wherein Hastings breaks out into a confident and clear voice that he should have used for the whole album.
Nagging vocal mismatch aside, the instrumental work in the album is top-notch. The past five decades have not worn down the core musical ability of Caravan. Longtime members Hastings, Geoffrey Richardson, and Jan Schelhaas create incredible, memorable melodies in every song on the album. Richardson and Schelhaas particularly carry the effort, weaving viola, violin, flute, and keyboard melodies into the groundwork laid by the other members. Drummer Mark Walker and bassist Lee Pomeroy, despite being more recent additions to the band, are just as adept as their seniors.
True to the band’s name, It’s None of Your Business feels like a set of songs for grand travels with friends and family. It’s clear that the band members are having fun with every song, and it’s easy to imagine racing through grassy, flowered plains in “Down from London,” “Every Precious Little Thing,” and “I’ll Reach out for You.” The album ends with “Luna’s Tuna,” a purely instrumental track that feels like a nighttime road trip slowly winding down to prepare to start anew the next day. It’s full of dreams, woes, worries, and other wholly personal emotions held within the mind of the subject as they travel through hard times. It is simply a tragedy, then, that dusty vocals make the experience a bit boring. It is clear that singing softly just doesn’t work anymore for Hastings unless the surrounding soundscape is equally soft. Had he consistently sung as strongly as in “Ready or Not,” this album could have been something truly wonderful.
Then again, it’s none of my business.