Cashbox Canada – New Album Feature – “Amateur Hour”

BTW Chris Velan, Catalina Shortwave, Anne Bourne, Small Leaks Sink Ships, Great Lake Swimmers, Dilly Dally, Christina Martin

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Chris Velan Photo Credit Dan Haber

Amateur Hour is the new album from genre-hopping songwriter Chris Velan and it started out as songs about a relationship and all the emotional baggage that comes with it; desire, love, resentment, pain. But soon he realized that the relationship he was exploring was the one with himself.

Due out September 14, Amateur Hour unfolds like a series of monologues in a one-act play where the characters are locked in a room and forced to respond and react to unexpected news, discovering that what they thought to be true of themselves was in fact not.

First single, “All Time Record”, is a bit of mystery for Velan. “It came in the form of an urgent stream of babble that I had to quickly record into my phone and then later transcribe and translate,” he says. “It wasn’t as much about the meaning of the words as it was their sound. I think that’s why it retains this elusive, joyful quality. It doesn’t want to be pinned down.”


The album was recorded in a winter week in Velan’s studio with an all-star team of Montreal artists; Bucky Wheaton (Land Of Talk, The Luyas, Timbre Timber), Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson, The Barr Brothers), Michael Feuerstack (Land Of Talk, The Luyas, Bell Orchestre), Max Henry (Suuns), and Tom Mennier (Martha Wainwright). Recorded by Rod Shearer, Amateur Hour is Velan’s most accomplished and personal album yet. The snowy, pastoral setting did nothing to temper what is essentially a pop-rock record with life-giving sounds, sometimes incendiary and explosive.

Velan has always been crossing borders with his brand of world music-influenced, singer-songwriter pop. Drawing comparisons to the smart, genre-mixing writing of Neil Finn, Nick Lowe, and Paul Simon, Velan has toured throughout North America with festival performances at The Lincoln Center, Sundance Festival, Montreal International Jazz Festival, and Osheaga.

As a producer, he has worked with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars and Haitian music collective, Lakou Mizik.

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