Chris Velan It's Not What You Think

On his eight-song solo debut, Montreal songsmith Chris Velan offers a mélange of acoustic musical styles. It’s Not What You Think features folk rock backed by a soulful attitude and one catchy chorus follows another. Melodic guitar picking marks all eight songs. The second song — the politically charged "Body Count”— melodically echoes Eagle-Eye Cherry’s "Save Tonight.” Here, Velan voices with well-versed irony his critique of the media and foreign interference in national conflicts. The song’s chorus poignantly paints this picture: "Give us the body count/ We want to know how much to care …” In the last verse of "Lights On,” Velan’s delivery gets playful and he rhymes off a few lines that recall the Barenaked Ladies technique in "One Week.” Prior to going solo, Velan played in the reggae band Equalizer with his two brothers; these reggae roots are still prevalent in his rhythmic playing. "Sweet Mary” — an ode to the forbidden leaf — is the best illustration of Velan’s island leanings. Overall, this talented troubadour sounds like a milkshake made up of Eagle-Eye Cherry, Bob Marley, Paul Simon and the Barenaked Ladies — a flavourful concoction that creates a savoury listening experience. (Independent)