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Duane Andrews “Caravan” Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , , .

Acclaimed East-Coast folk instrumentalist Duane Andrews’ recent offering, Caravan, represents a shift towards further defining himself as a tangibly diverse musician. Throughout there are flirtations with ragtime, a variety of waltzes and boggy jazz lullabies, all proving Andrews to be either a glutton for genre-defying mood shifts or simply a wonderful musician. Caravan looks at a variety of numbers that feature both Andrews’ originals, traditional tunes and the occasional cover. All of which seem to flow together as opposites working in spite of one another.

Creating a context for music is a tricky thing, as context can divide the emotion surrounding a piece and strip it of its meaning or caress it and bring it new light. As such instrumental pieces can also field an array of emotions and change a given setting without even trying. If you were to walk into a dimly lit club with candles acting as your only guide and began wading through the compact basement with its low-level ceiling, all of which is in a neighborhood where you might not normally venture after dark, you might feel somewhat unwelcome. But if Andrew was sitting at a stool in the corner, barely visible, strumming his rendition of Django Reinhardt’s “Swing 42” while a trumpet glossed the surface of the club, you might just find yourself in an environment that is the furthest possible thing from uninviting.

And that is the key to Andrews’ music. Caravan is unaggressive in its slow appeal which doesn’t quickly draw interest, nor does it abruptly stir conflict. It sits in the dark corner while everything else around it reinforces its necessity.Caravan is tricky in that it allows everything else that’s going on to continue around it, while creating an atmosphere that breathes energy and at the same time allows itself to be forgotten. At the end of the night, it will be the strangely arousing conversation or delicious drink you had that made the night special, while the music might’ve been the night’s true inspiration.

“A Birch Broom In The Fits” is a speedy latin-jazz piece that finds itself as the odd exception. It is classical music on-the-go, and finds itself at odds with the songs that come before and after it. Though it serves as one of the songs previously hinted at, the kind that upset the flow of the album without disrupting Caravan’s overall feel. It serves as one of the few songs that works because it is a change of pace. It’s a different animal altogether, and so is Andrews with his Caravan as living proof that music can excite without becoming overwhelming.