For Chris Ho it is about connection.
Despite the title of his newly released, full-length album City of Dust, and its lead single No Connection, the affable 23-year-old singer and songwriter’s narrative may be more adept at making a connection than his lyrics let on.
“(Chris) balances a very artistic, true, unapologetic creative voice and a really cut-to-the-chase strong pop sound simultaneously,” said album co-producer Sam Weber. “It was (about) the tunes. … Making a record where we really didn’t want to compromise anything from a creative means.”
Weber, a fellow solo artist and member of local band River, met Ho only a year ago but made an instant bond with the young songwriter before coming on as a recording engineer for Ho’s first full-length album. One year later, he is proud and excited not only for the album release, but for audiences to enjoy a precision and honesty that shines both on the stage and in the studio.
“If you go to a live show without knowing the tunes, a (musician) has a long way to go to win you over,” Weber said. “But Chris is able to. (He) makes everyone feel comfortable on an artistic level and an entertaining level. It is without compromise, it is not cheap. He can really grab your attention and maintain it.”
Despite recent success, his rise through the ranks has been a methodical one. Sparked with home recordings shared mostly with friends as a 15-year old, to now having his music streamed on CBC, a spot on an upcoming music documentary Tracks on Tracks, and appearances in popular events from the Tall Tree Festival in Port Renfrew to North by Northeast in Toronto, he defers credit to the songs, rather than himself.
“I think what stands out is that music becomes something that is bigger than yourself,” Ho said. “It very much comes out of an unconscious process where you are suddenly compelled to write a song and you don’t know what it is going to be about. You almost discover a song rather than write it.”
It may be that selflessness that helps audiences connect with the University of Victoria graduate who feels solace in finally having his 12-song album out there, out of his system and open for interpretation.
“There is a strong feeling of relief because it does feel like you are getting something off your chest a little. … It is kind of like keeping an emotion bottled up. The release of the album (is) the moment you release,” the Saanich resident said. “It is basically (about) having the ability to share a part of yourself. (People) hear it and say your album really helped me get through this. … Or it came at a perfect time in my life because I was going through something similar. It is the magic of how everyone can interpret a song differently and have that be relatable.”
For more information go to chrishomusic.com.