In all honesty, Chris Velan’s third album Solidago is better than it quite has the right to be. Velan’s blatantly mining the same laid-back singer-songwriter lode that Jack Johnson and Mike Doughty (post-Soul Coughing, of course) have been at for years, and for the most part he pulls off their trick of being both accessible and artistically credible. It helps, of course, that Velan’s songwriting instincts are so sharp—these songs are, to a fault, well-crafted, well-written, and well-produced, and tracks like “Out of Range” and album-opener “Hard Way Learner” prove that Velan has serious chops. And if he occasionally crosses into the excessively maudlin (“May Your Soul Get to Heaven”), or his odd reggae flourishes get a bit out of control (“I’m in Come In”)—well, the tracks are easy enough to ignore, if not to forgive.
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