Green Shows His Colours with a Little Hell
Monday, June 27, 2011 Leave a comment
It’s been three years since Alexisonfire singer/guitarist Dallas Green blew us away with Bring Me Your Love, the second solo-album released under Green’s literal alias City and Colour. What began as a well-kept secret only hardcore Alexis fans knew about became a critical and commercial hit, catapulting Green’s career to what some might say is even higher than that of his original band.
On June 7th, City and Colour returned with Little Hell, a statement from Green that he doesn’t intend on keeping his signature sound stagnant. Though there are still several songs with only an acoustic guitar backing up Green’s vocals, there are just as many tracks with a full band worked into the mix. Though the songs aren’t as immediately catchy or radio-friendly as those on Bring Me Your Love, the songs are just as emotional (if not more so) and performed just as well.
Dallas Green has always been a singer I’ve respected just based on the level of honesty he brings to the table. 2005’s Sometimes dealt with a lot of his loneliness while touring with AoF, and BMYL dealt with similar struggles mixed with infidelity, hopelessness, and addiction. Green further opens up on Little Hell, with songs about his family and his sister’s battle with depression. Green has a knack for making his troubles voiced in such a universal way that just about anyone can find something that grabs them in some way or another. When he went on tour last year and sang “O’ Sister” for the first time, there were more than a few people in the audience around me that were brought to tears. This guy could have a degree in tugging heartstrings.
Check out the surprisingly risque music video for “Fragile Bird,” the album’s first single.
Sonically, this album has a very warm feel to it. In fact, the recording of the record was done in a converted church in Ontario; entirely on tape and without the aid of most modern technological crutches bands rely on these days. The songs won’t quite pop out at you at first; you won’t find songs like the ultra catchy “Sleeping Sickness” or even “The Girl.” What you’ll find are simple, much more mellow, almost confessional songs that take a few listens to really grab hold of you. This album is just as dynamic as the last, but in a very different way.
I have my quarrels with Green’s lyrics, though. As much as I can respect their honest and intimate approach, I can’t say the lyrics in Little Hell are Green’s best, and they sometimes distract from the level of immersion. He’s been guilty of some less than stellar lines in Alexisonfire, too. That being said, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with “Weightless,” one of my favorite and least favorite songs on the album. I love the way the chorus is sung, it’s an incredibly powerful song, but the vocal melody in the first verse is downright annoying.
Overall, this is another great solo effort by Dallas, and any fan of his first two albums should pick this up immediately if you haven’t done so already. Though it may take a little longer to get into than previous albums, and may not have that same level of sing-along-ness, it does shows a jump in musicianship from Green, and an evident maturity in songwriting. If you download the album via iTunes, you’ll be treated to two exclusive songs, including an acapella track entitled “At the Bird’s Foot,” which reminded me a lot of the latter half of Alexisonfire’s “Burial” (Old Crows/Young Cardinals). Little Hell won’t quite blow you away like Bring Me Your Love did, but it’s definitely worth buying for any Alexis or City & Colour fan, or for anyone looking for some well-written, mostly-acoustic music.
Standout Tracks: “Little Hell,” “Hope For Now,” “Fragile Bird,” and “O’ Sister.”