CHRIS VELAN: SolidagoArtist: Chris Velan Album: Solidago Record: NewSong Recordings Release: 14 July 2009
Once again, the talent that continues to flow out of Canadian musicians amazes me. I never know quite what to expect when I play a new release, and Chris Velan’s smooth voice and delightful melodies leave me yearning for more. This may be The Album of Summer 2009.
The beginning of the album has a heavy Western influence. While I grappled with the notion that this isn’t quite country, but it isn’t entirely not country, Solidago continues its journey through the wide range of Velan’s musical influences. A classically trained guitar player from the age of nine, Velan grew up listening to family favourites like Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson, and Van Morrison, as well as early 80’s new wave and reggae. This culmination of musical influences has resulting in Solidago, his third solo album, and his distinctly reggae folk music.
His songs reflect a number of genres, and his delightful music can belie darker lyrics. Some of my favourite songs include “Wobbly Bones,” which manages to convey both the horrors and the hope witnessed during his time in Africa touring UN refugee camps; reggae-influenced “Hunting Season,” which features my favourite line: Why you still swinging when nobody can win? I also love the final track, “May Your Soul Get To Heaven,” which finds profound spirituality in a book of superstitions and offers a blessing in the form of a lullaby.
Chris Velan has been lucky (and talented) enough to open for artists such as Duffy and Animal Liberation Orchestra, as well as performing at Ottawa’s Folk and Blues Festivals. His live performances are not to be missed, and you can catch him on his Canadian tour as he visits BC and other locations. He’ll also be performing at the Virgin Festival at the end of July, along with The Roots and K-OS. Backstage Vancouver will be covering his show at The Media Club on Wednesday 15 July 2009, so follow BackstageBlog for live updates throughout the evening.
Solidago can be purchased from iTunes and CD Baby, and be sure to check out his MySpace to listen to his music. Don’t let his delightfully pleasant album distract you from the depth of his artistry and song writing abilities.TRACK LISTING 1. Hard Way Learner 2. Wobbly Bones 3. Oldest Trick 4. Pauper in a Palace 5. Hunting Season 6. Go Easy 7. A Year Can Change A Lot 8. Out of Range 9. I’m In, Come In 10. House Upon The Hill 11. May Your Soul Get To Heaven