For Chris Velan, arrival at the intersection of experience and opportunity occurred in the form of a phone call from two college friends who were making a documentary about a group of musicians in war-torn Sierra Leone. Although he had been a student of classical guitar from the age of nine and a veteran of the Canadian band scene, he had recently embarked towards a career as a human rights lawyer in his native Montreal. After the grind of law school and a year of life as an apprentice attorney, he made the decision that would change his course personally and professionally; he opted for the meaningful over the mundane. His subsequent experiences in Africa left an indelible mark that would govern his choices as he contemplated future life once the film project was complete. His involvement with Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars (he produced their album and often performs with them) showed him that there is power in music that transcends even the law and put him literally on the road to making a career as a singer/songwriter.
Chris Velan’s current album (his third), Solidago, is a stunning culmination of influences. From the folk-rock of his youth to the reggae of his college days to the echo of his time in Africa, Chris has created a unique collection of songs that invite listen after listen. Not often will you find a record that juxtaposes the horror of sectarian strife with the hopeful musings of errant love. Solidago achieves this seemingly without effort. The jarring lyrical content of “Wobbly Bones” is brilliantly offset by the lilting dirge that draws the listener to the stark reality of man’s cruelty to man without causing them to look away. Few songwriters working today would be able to make the point without contrivance. Followed by “Oldest Trick”, a sly skewering of our technological world, Solidago reveals itself to have a gravitas missing from most contemporary efforts. Capped by the starkness of “May Your Soul Get to Heaven”, Solidago is an album that begs for a follow-up.
Solidago is available on NewSong Recordings and on Itunes. Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter. Look for the brand new Banker White directed video of “Oldest Trick” widely available. Chris will be touring the U.S. throughout the fall. Check www.chrisvelan.com/full-calendar for dates.
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