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  • lauryverdoux

Chris Beland Releases New Single "Return To Pooh"

Santa Maria, California native Chris Beland’s songs are part of a larger

story. They work, of course, as standalone compositions capable of

moving listeners, but they are important entries in the story of one

human being’s continued growth as a soul and individual. His rough,

rugged younger years prepared him for the redemption he enjoys today

and, when you encounter his music, those hard-won lessons inform every

line and note. His latest single “Return to Pooh” doesn’t bear the scars

of those days, far from it, but its very existence bears witness to the

road he's traveled to reach this place.

The song’s understated beauty is obvious from the first. Its acoustic

guitar driven arrangement emphasizes melody and light percussion, Beland

rapping on the guitar’s wooden body between instrumental lines, with

relaxed confidence. Structuring the arrangement around such a spartan

center aligns him with illustrious predecessors such as Neil Young, Cat

Stevens, Andrew Bird, and Bob Dylan, among others. It never sounds

crassly imitative, however. The folk singer/songwriter vibe emanating

from his work has effortless uplift for listeners.

His song glows thanks to top notch production as well. His vocals and

guitar work boast crystal clarity and a keen sense of auditory balance.

The effect of the song’s presentation encourages listeners to feel as if

Beland is singing for them alone, mere feet away. The intimacy of this

performance is startling and reassuring. Few showcase songs like this as

much as they once did and Beland sounds completely at home with this

performing model.

His voice isn’t alone. Scattered secondary vocals from a female backing

singer supplies the track with an ideal counterpoint. Beland’s instincts

for where to use that second voice are sharp. His vocal phrasing hinges

on melody and underlines the melodic merits of his guitar playing. The

lyrical content is unusual and stands out for several reasons. First,

writing about Christopher Robin and his creation Winnie the Pooh

suggests this is a children’s song. This isn’t the case. Second, the

wealth of specific detail woven throughout Beland’s writing helps the

song leap out for listeners. It captures your attention from the first

line and doesn’t let go.

He doesn’t drag out the composition. Beland tailors the song to a

manageable length rather than overextending its charms. There are no

extended instrumental breaks, the song doesn’t need them, and the cool

focus of the performance resists any self-indulgence. Few, if any,

modern songwriters are treading through the territory that Beland calls

his own. He isn’t remaking the idea of songwriting or musical

performance, it isn’t groundbreaking, but he’s fully invested in the

moment. The inspiration powering this single is undeniable.


You’ll be pleased to hear this track and it invites multiple listens.

Chris Beland’s creativity is unique in a world of cookie-cutter music

and sparkles with the magic of art. This song from the forthcoming

CaliAmericana Volume II compilation, released by Santa Barbara Records,

is well worth your time.


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