Montreal songwriter and producer Chris Velan dropped sixth LP, Glow March 4 and is all aglow as he preps for hitting the road to show off the thing. As a teaser, he’s just put out a tres trippy video for the title track Glow. Directed by Velan himself, the video was filmed “at the height of summer over the course of three magical days in an old-growth forest in a provincial park outside of Victoria,” he says. “The two, feral-looking brothers in the story are sons of friends of mine and they did such a wonderful job at just being themselves in their acting debut. The final product has this beautiful hazy and dreamlike quality to it that captures the hymnal feel of the song.”
The song’s true potential didn’t emerge until it was time to record. “Glow was originally an up-tempo, happy-sounding track,” he says. “But when we got to recording it in the studio, we quickly realized the feel and arrangement didn’t match the solemn and reflective lyrics. The take that made it on the album was our first attempt at re-imagining the song. If you listen closely, you can almost hear us unlocking the tune as we’re playing it.”
In studio to record Glow was Co-producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Basia Bulat, Wolf Parade, Vic Chestnutt) and an all-star band of local musicians; Jamie Thompson (Islands, The Unicorns) sitting at the drums, Morgan Moore (Barr Brothers, Blood and Glass) on bass, Max Henry (Suuns) playing keys, with Ariel Engle (AroarA) and Ngabo Kiroko (Dear Denizen) providing backup vocals. Glow is the most accomplished, seamless mingling of Velan’s musical predilections – dancing from quiet, intimate passages, growing on pulse smooth rhythms. It’s a DNA that draws from his singer-songwriter craft as much as from West African guitar pop, vintage-era rock steady, and dance-floor eighties rock.
The songs on Glow want to pull back the curtain and let the light in. They’re about taking that long, unflinching look in the mirror, shattering mythologies, both personal and collective, and naming the lies that keep us caged. Whether refusing the clean-up job of a prophet in “Listen, Elijah”, or invoking grace in “Call Me Into Your Heart,”Velan’s latest collection of songs seems intent on finding joy at the end of the world – where no matter how frightening the outcome, the end is never the end, just a great new beginning.
It’s a path of inquiry that began for Velan on his previous album, The Long Goodbye, a raw and confessional reckoning with the break-up of a long-term relationship. While echoes of that ache remain in his latest release, the writing now looks forward with a faith in the blossoming power of love, connection, and the other intangibles that sustain life and will.
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