Here’s another shout out to my wife’s wonderful taste in music. This next act was introduced to me a few years ago from my wife, an act that has expanded from one solo artist to a whole band. After several listens to his albums, I started to love his music as well. This band has had such an impact on both of our lives that we even used one of their songs as our wedding song and have now seen him live three times. We cannot get enough of Dallas Green and his wonderful band City and Colour.
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, ex-Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green has shifted his focus towards a new genre of music with his current band. From side project to main project, City and Colour primarily features Green on vocals/guitar/piano, but also features many touring musicians including Daniel Romano on guitar/pedal steel/organ, Dylan Green on drums, and Scott Remila on bass guitar. Having come from a post-hardcore band, Green has completely changed his musical direction, focusing on a more acoustic sound. Ranging from indie rock, to folk rock, to country and blues, City and Colour creates gentle tones and somber moods through their discography. Their album “Little Hell” is easily my favorite, and is definitely worth a listen.
Like my previous post, “Little Hell” is much softer than my normal taste of progressive rock/metal, but is nonetheless an album that fights it way towards the top of my most played list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this album, since listening to this album easily reminds me of my wife, the adventures, the trials, the tribulations, the joys, and the blessings we’ve been through. In a way, this perfectly describes the theme of this album. Many of the songs focus on Green’s own trials and tribulations, whether marital, family, or personal. Songs like “O’ Sister” and “The Grand Optimist” show Green’s relationship with his family, while “We Found Each Other in the Dark” and “Northern Wind” grant us a look into his marriage. This album is one of the most personal albums I’ve heard, and shows throughout the album his emotions to the listener. Ranging from hopeful highs to downright depressing lows, “Little Hell” pulls at the listener’s heartstrings.
There’s two songs that I’d like to bring attention to, since I consider these two songs the epitome of the album. The first is obviously the title track “Little Hell,” a revealing look at Green’s view of his past. This song uses acoustic guitar throughout, but contains great clean riffs and even a guitar solo in the song’s bridge, along with powerful cymbal hits on the drums. The lyrics are very heartfelt, and I can’t help feeling the same way when I met my wife. Reminiscing on our faults and our problems, the song’s chorus and outro are raw, coming from painful moments in Green’s life:
“There’s a degree of difficulty in dealing with me / From my haunted past comes a daunting task of living through memories / If we could just hang a mirror on the bedroom wall / Stare in to the past, and forget it all / Will we get out of this little hell?” (source)
I would say that the song “Little Hell” is my favorite if it weren’t for the song “Northern Wind.” My wife and I love this song so much that we used it as our wedding song. I can’t help but think of that wonderful day, all the planning and details that went into it. This song is one of a few on the album that only contain Green and an acoustic guitar, as stripped-down as a songwriter can get. Using this technique makes the song much more personal and relatable, forcing the listener to focus on what he says. The song’s opening verse and chorus perfectly sum up not only the greatness of this album, but of how much I love my wife:
“You’re the northern wind sending shivers down my spine / You’re like fallen leaves in an autumn night / You’re the lullaby singing me to sleep / You are the other half, you’re like a missing piece / Oh my love, oh my love, oh my love / You don’t know what you’re doing to me” (source)
This entire album is fun, containing many bluesy moments, rhythm slide guitar, perfectly situated drum beats, and plenty of acoustic guitar. The album feels much fuller than its predecessors because it simply is, comprising of more musicians and instruments on this album. The closing song “Hope for Now” starts slow, but concludes by becoming the album’s heaviest, and contains the longest solo on the album. The progressive rock fan in me only wishes the song could continue for another 20 minutes, filling time with several solos and reprises. All in all, the album is excellent, and should meet the standards of fans of different rock genres.
I recommend City and Colour’s “Little Hell” to those looking for comfort in lyrics. So many of the songs contain relatable lyrics; Who knows, one of them could become your wedding song. Fans of softer music from William Fitzsimmons to Bon Iver, and fans of harder music from bands like Circa Survive, Slaves, Emarosa, and Lydia should definitely give this album a shot. If you fell in love with “Little Hell” like I did, then be sure to check out City and Colour’s latest album “The Hurry and the Harm.” Please support this band by purchasing their music on iTunes, and by following them on their website and on Twitter.