Canada just seems to be full of talented singer songwriters. A few days ago, fellow statesman (or woman) Neko Case was highlighted. Today’s entry represents another kind of singer songwriter with less experimental aspirations, but no less effective.
Dallas Green, better known as City and Colour was a member of the short lived band Alexisonfire. As a solo artist he has written and played nearly all of his material. Often accompanied by a rotating host of musicians, his fourth album The Hurry and the Harm from 2013 benefits from a more stable backing band and more refined songwriting.
Incorporating bits of pop, blues, Americana and indie folk, Green’s falsetto has a bright upbeat quality about it. That upbeat quality can be deceptive as his songs can often be about dark moments. There are also moments of sarcasm like on “The Golden State”, a song about the overrated California experience. The arrangements are catchy, almost humorous and typical of the rest of The Hurry and the Harm to some degree.
Much of The Hurry and the Harm moves along with the casualness of a rolled up shirt. On occasion the pace picks up with aggressive urgency on songs like “Thurst”, but it’s the middle tempo stunners like “Harder Than Stone” that showcase Green’s wonderful melodies and falsetto.
When he’s not being bitter about lost love or a certain West Coast state, he’s making the most catchy melodies. The track “Commentators” sums up Green’s take on songwriting:
“I’m not trying to be revolutionary, I’m just looking for a sweet melody”
And finds the melody he does. Catchy hooks are everywhere. Haunting lyrics contrast against a bright string led production to make The Hurry and the Harm my favorite Dallas Green/City and Colour album. When I first got it, I listened to it (or parts of it) almost every day for a good two weeks.
Like Jason Mraz, Josh Roush or John Mayer, Green’s City and the Colour (they are almost a permanent band at this point) uses melody and catchy hooks to create music that is a notch above most chart bound pop in sophistication. Others like Jason Mraz might use clever lyrical tricks, but Green relies on solid songwriting with a heavy dose of melody.
This album got better promotion and distribution in America than any of the three City and the Colour releases before it. As a result, it made the charts on both sides of Lake Ontario. Green’s 2015 follow up If I Should Go Before You was even more successful, but I still feel that The Hurry and the Harm was Green at his melodic best.