Chris Canas – Would You Mind?
Self-Release – 2020
15 tracks; 79 minutes
Born in 1984, Michigan’s Chris Canas started young, producing his first album at 15 years of age and Would You Mind? is his seventh effort. Entirely original and filling the available space on a CD, Chris wrote every song here, apart from one where his mother Angela Cottingham wrote the lyrics. Angela adds vocals and percussion to the band in which Chris sings lead and plays guitar (plus occasional bass), Chris Nordham is on keys, Derek ‘DC’ Washington bass and Michael Scott drums; everyone except Derek adds backing vocals when required.
The title track opens proceedings, a chugging rocker that makes a great start as Chris name-checks Detroit and Chicago as places where he plays the blues. The following track “Hey Y’All” is also autobiographical but would probably work better in a live context, especially when Chris uses the old “join in and sing along with us” strategy which really does not work on a studio recording. After two uptempo numbers “Cloud 9” is a slower tune which gives Chris an opportunity to demonstrate his considerable vocal range and “Thick And Thin” moves into relaxed, late-night, jazz lounge style, even a little scat singing; both numbers have fine keyboard work and Chris plays some nice acoustic stuff on the latter number.
A funky guitar riff underpins “Feel So Good”, in which Chris explains how he feels with a guitar in his hands. The lilting “Paradise” is a fine, overtly romantic song with acoustic rhythms and piano -“please forgive the man who loves you, all the hurtful things I say. You’re my heart, you’re my soul, you’re my life, now, baby, let’s grow old so we can live out our lives in a paradise”. The busy “Get Outta My Life” is a soulful piece that rattles along with some ‘shoop, shoop’ backing vocals and another excellent keyboard solo, this time on electric piano, before Chris comes in with a fleet-fingered solo.
“Have A Nice Day” is a sarcastic remark as Chris is obviously having a tough time with this particular person: “the evil things that you did to me, like when you marinated my heart in the mud.” “Walk A Mile” talks of the struggle to keep afloat in the ghetto, the serious theme belied by a catchy, funky rhythm that includes a short bass feature before Chris takes over with a fuzz-laden solo
“Lover Set Me Free” is the longest track here, the opening piano section seeming to quote from “Funny How Time Slips Away” before the song develops into a lush ballad with fine singing by Angela of her own lyrics. Keyboard man Chris N shines on the Hammond and Chris C gets in on the act with a nicely retrained solo too. A familiar title, “Cheaper To Keep Her”, is not the Johnnie Taylor song but a bright, uptempo soul tune while “Mardi Gras Mama” brings some Louisiana rhythms to the party as the rhythm section has some fun with the jagged rhythms of the tune.
“Dirty Blues Man” does what the title suggests and “Havin’ A Good Time” returns us to the soulful side of the street, the album closing with “Brighter Days” which blends some gospel influences into the band’s music, especially in Chris’ vocal here.
On this generously filled album Chris Canas shows a sure touch in a number of styles. Although there is a lot of music here Chris’s playing is generally restrained and thankfully free of shredding while his band, notably the keyboard player, have plenty to say also.