No surprise here, to anyone that has known me for more than a week.
Dallas Green has a very special place in my heart. His band, Alexisonfire, is the catalyst that prompted a love affair with heavy music that has gone on for twelve wonderful years. His majestic voice, expert guitar playing and insightful songwriting is one of the main reasons for it.
In the beginning, from his EP work to his first studio album ‘Sometimes’ Dallas was what at the time we all so eloquently called “emo”. He was sensitive, heart wrenching and just plain sad in most of the songs from his first album. However, his second album ‘Bring Me Your Love’ immediately projected a more mature and confident man with a more full bodied instrumental sound backing him up. Though still emotional in its tone and subject matter, it seemed that his priorities has shifted and his worries where placed in a very different set of values, namely in the sorrows of being in love instead of the pains of a broken heart and a lonely life. One of the biggest treats on the album, for me, was ‘Sleeping Sickness’ which is actually a very old track that he recorded before his first album was even released. The new, vibrant update starred a stronger voice and a more solid foundation, not to mention a beautiful verse by Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip.
City and Colours 2011 album ‘Little Hell’ was a complete turning point for his entire musical style, in my opinion. Suddenly, there was this luscious, impressive fullness to everything from the production value to the harmony of the instruments and vocals. It felt like Green had found his stride. ‘Fragile Bird’ still stands as one of his most beautiful and powerful songs to date. There is a heaviness to the tone of the entire album and an unmistakable authenticity to the talent of the artists.
Recently, City and Colour released ‘The Hurry And The Harm’ right around the time that Alexisonfire announced they were disbanding. There is a lot of speculation that it is directly as a result of City and Colours growing success and yearning to focus on the side project. Though I was all but heartbroken, this album helped me to understand. At first listen, I was unsure of what to think, but perhaps it was because of the chip on my shoulder. As always, I gave it another try and immediately fell in love. The pride, the confidence, the humble poetry and the passion behind the music is intoxicating at its best. The focus continues to shift towards the musicianship of the band and the growing strength of Dallas Greens vocals. The song ‘Harder Than Stone’ seems to be a direct reference to his role in Alexisonfire, with a few lines taken directly from their song ‘Born and Raised’ from the ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’ album. That alone was enough to make me an emotional mess.
Albums aside, after seeing City and Colour perform live on three separate occasions, two in the past year, I can honestly say that he is one of the most impressive live performers that I have seen. Listening to him live is very much like listening to him on vinyl record. The rawness that you hear on his albums translates perfectly in his live show, which is understated and always outlined with a perfect set list of audience favourites and live stunners. His voice never misses the mark and the band sound is amped up to such a seductive way that I often find myself thinking that I’d rather listen to them live than through my stereo.
I could go on all day, but because of his raw talent, his beautiful voice and his constantly maturing ear for music, City and Colour is one of my most influential musical idols.
Listen to: Fragile Bird, Sleeping Sickness, Thirst, Weightless, Death Of Me, The Lonely Life