Album Review – Great Dark Wonder




Chris Velan, “Amateur Hour”

It was only a few months ago when I revisited the enjoyable “Fables For Fighters” album from Chris Velan, and here he is once more, earning my attention with his brand new “Amateur Hour” release.  Recorded in just the space of one week in his Montreal studio, Velan enlisted Rod Shearer to help create his seventh and most personal album to date.  With material focused around a relationship and the emotional baggage that comes with it, “Amateur Hour” serves up the realization that the relationship being explored here happens to be the one with himself.

Boasting a dozen new tracks that revolve around love, desire, resentment and pain, Velan takes the listener on an abbreviated emotional tour that ‘unfolds like a series of monologues in a one-act play.’  The opening track “All Time Record” sees Chris come out swinging and not holding anything back. I don’t envy the intended recipient of the tongue (in-cheek) lashing here, accentuated at appropriate moments with some well-timed piano key crashes.  Not only is Velan known for his often quirky lyrical creativity, with tracks such as “Everything I Have Is Stolen” and “Cola Wars” in particular, he once again ensures that the final mix allows his vocals to be at the forefront, rather than lost within the instrumentation.

Several tracks here provoked comparisons to eighties pop music for this particular listener. Go ahead and see if you too detect hints of Rick Ocasek during “You Can Talk,” or some Phil Collins influences about halfway through “Only One.”  Velan’s signature sound is the most apparent on “The Holdout,” which conjured memories of “Did We Ever Have A Chance” upon the first listen.  If there is one track that perfectly encapsulates that “one-act play” moment, it has to be “Amateur Hour.”  With the lively beat, Velan’s manipulative lyrical skills paint the perfect picture of the scene, and like his previous works, warrants several spins to really delve into his psyche.  By the third or fourth spin of this album, you too may be questioning your own personal relationships.

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