City and Colour is the stage name of Canada crooner Dallas Green, one that he has used since 2004. At the time, Green was an integral part of the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire (pronounced Alexis-On-Fire), but has managed to record four albums during and after the band's existence, earning himself a devoted following and a considerable influence in the indie country/folk scene. On his new album, The Hurry And The Harm, Green exposes his inner doubts and hopes more than ever, through breezy guitar and heartfelt vocals that show off a vulnerable side of the singer we don't often get to see.
In our recent session with Dallas, he revealed how important this stage of separation and renewal has been for him. "It's the first time that I didn't have an Alexisonfire record to work on in between City and Colour records, which I had been doing for six years straight - back and forth, back and forth. So knowing that that wasn't there, every time I picked up a guitar to write, the songs that came out were just these songs [the ones that would become The Hurry and the Harm]. So when I got home, I sat there and realized I had all these songs that I was really proud of and wanted to record." And this collection of songs is poignant, polished, and a pleasure to sit back and sink into. Green has said that this is the most full-sounding album he's ever made, yet it never feels over-produced, striking the sort of sonic balance of Transcatlanticism-era Death Cab For Cutie, while clearly citing older influences. "Take Care," a sweet song about longing to take care of a friend who can't take care of themselves, features gently picked guitar reminiscent of Sun Kil Moon and shimmering, understated strings in the vein of Nick Drake.
The folk influences are present in his lyrics as well: lines like "Just put two coins upon my eyelids so I can pay the poor man's toll" (from the almost psychedelic "Two Coins") speak to the country folklore roots that run deep beneath City and Colour's surface. And with almost Nashville-worthy cheekiness, "The Golden State" cleverly asks the question "Why is everyone still singing about California?" in a song that's entirely about California. Hints of his Alexis days shine through as well, such as the pounding beat, insistent vocals, and pinching anger on "Thirst," a thunderous song written from the point of view of a woman scorned. But Green's songs take on a distinctly hopeful tone not heard in his tattooed emo days: even when he sings of despair, as in "The Lonely Life," beneath it all is a plea for connection. He's rooting for love, reaching for light, "searching for paradise" (as he tells us in the song "Paradise").
"I've always been dark, with light somewhere in the distance." This refrain from "Two Coins" may be a perfect summary of City and Colour's persona, as seen on The Hurry And The Harm. Equally suitable for sunset or sunrise, his music explores inner darkness from the safe distance of gently lulling sunlight, never feeling overwhelming in either direction. It is the sound of transition.
Experience acoustic versions of songs from The Hurry and The Harm in our transcendent session video.