Geoffrey Richardson: The Garden Of Love

Caravan’s string-driven man does his own thing.

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As the animated foil to Pye Hastings’ diffident persona in the current Caravan line-up, Geoffrey Richardson might be expected to produce a hyperactive solo album.

In fact, The Garden Of Love is unusually laid-back, with most tracks painting deft details over a smooth, mid-tempo rhythm. Of the many varied artists Richardson has worked with in the past, it’s closer to Chris de Burgh than Buzzcocks. There’s a pleasing English lilt to the whole however, albeit without Caravan’s charming eccentricity. Gentle glides like The Downs, My Longest Day and This Winter explore time-honoured turf somewhere between Dire Straits, Jethro Tull and Kate Bush. Unfortunate reggae misfires aside, it never strays far from its secure, soothing path. While that’s less than thrilling, it’s as relaxing as a stroll in a sunlit country garden. Richardson plays around a dozen instruments – everything from violin and viola to flute, sax and mandolin – and his voice exudes easy warmth. This garden’s not an unpleasant place to spend time, but the restless might covet a trip to the Penguin Café. No comparison to Spirit Of Eden then, but grounds for a delve into detoxification and a serene reverie.