Jan Schelhaas - Living On A Little Blue Dot album review

Outer space and inner calm from Caravan/Camel veteran.

Jan Schelhaas - Living On A Little Blue Dot album artwork

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While there’s always been more to Caravan and Camel than gentle whimsy, it’s safe to say both esteemed outfits are adept at creating lush, warm atmospheres.

Keyboard maestro Schelhaas has played his part since joining Caravan in 1975. He’s spent a good portion of the time since with the Canterbury sophisticates and their Guildford allies. A solo album appeared nine years ago: his second, with Pye Hastings and Andy Latimer guesting, is as lush and warm as the longest day is long, and inspired by astronomer Carl Sagan’s writings about how tiny we humans are in a massive universe. Perspective is all very well but even better are sounds resembling a relaxed waterfall of melancholy honey. He wraps these songs in a gauze of dreamy, hazy reflection that almost makes David Gilmour’s recent reveries echo Plastic Bertrand, like Tears For Fears at their most introspective. Yet it emits upbeat, positive charm: these accessible tracks, even the title number which reclines like a lazy cat, chirrup that our relative insignificance is a feel-good thing. We are stardust, and this makes Schelhaas so tranquilly content that he can muse on such matters as ladies putting on stockings and “making babies”. Lovely.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.