Review Summary: Canadian troubadour puts out Alexis fire for now with serious contender for album of the year.
“My name is Dallas. I can’t sleep. I play music. Finish strong.”
With these four simple sentences, we are introduced to Dallas (city) Green (colour), on his MySpace profile. He may appear to one of few words, but anyone even slightly familiar with his work knows there is certainly more to Green than meets the eye. The music he has created under this alias is in surprisingly strong contrast with his main focus as guitarist and vocalist in Canadian band Alexisonfire. With Alexisonfire, he plays loud, intense and melodic hardcore, providing soaring clean vocals amidst George Pettit’s howl and Wade McNeil’s husk. On his own, however, Dallas prefers his music stripped back- almost always acoustic musically, introspective and from the heart lyrically.
With his second studio offering under the City and Colour name, Bring Me Your Love
, Green has created an album that feels instantly accessible, genuine and poetic, in a vein similar to works by a young Bob Dylan or the late Jeff Buckley. From the opening guitar picking to the final harmony, the album is a collection twelve moments of beauty and delicacy enfolded in perfect order, so there is no need to skip or rearrange the way of listening to it.
So what exactly is it that makes Bring Me Your Love
such an outstanding effort? Well, it’s simple…no, really. The album’s main focus is the man, his guitar and the vivid, beautiful and often hard-hitting words weaved in-between. This ‘less-is-more’ style is noticeable from track one- “Forgive Me” is a raw recording of Dallas Green walking into a room, picking up a steel string guitar and performing a brief but heart-wrenching plea of love-lost apology (“I’ve been known to fall in love/But sometimes love just is not enough”). Green’s Jeff Buckley influence is like a ghost in the room on this track; and the sentiment of the album’s consistently poignant lyricism is evidently off to a strong start. Elsewhere, the folksy “Constant Knot” and definitive album highlight, the beautifully pensive “What Makes A Man?”, further prove that sometimes, an acoustic guitar, a voice (especially one as penetrating as Green’s) and maybe even a little harmonica is all you need.
Conversely, another great thing about this record is Green’s development of his sound with City and Colour. This time around, the sound has instruments such as the banjo, bass, drums, stomp boards and various other percussion- in itself a notable change from 2005’s Sometimes
, which featured only guitars and keyboard. The change and progression is most notable on lead single “Waiting…”, the first City and Colour song to have a real “full band” feel to it. The song is certainly all the better for it, adding an unexpected depth and energy to the song. Elsewhere, “Sleeping Sickness” sees Dallas take to some choppy guitar chords and introduce a touch of loudness and intensity with a fantastically catchy stomp-clap chorus (also used in a similar vein during the outro of “Constant Knot” to great effect) and a country-rock guitar solo, providing a perfect example of Green’s ability on the instrument. Tragically Hip front-man and fellow Canadian Gordon Downie also supplies vocals on the second verse, with a strained, weary soulfulness that few other vocalists can pull off properly.
Perhaps the most important feature of Bring Me Your Love
, however, is Green’s lyrics, heart-wrenchingly honest, starkly powerful and often filled with vivid imagery and moving stories of loss, guilt, love and loneliness. The anxiety on “Constant Knot” (“A constant knot in my gut/Tied with uncertainty and with lust”), the sweet long-distance love story of “The Girl” (“While I’m off chasing my own dreams/Sailing around the world/Please know that I’m yours to keep”), the criminal on trial’s “Confessions” (“At least, this I’ll admit/For what I’ve done, I am not proud”), to being completely honest with himself in “Sensible Heart” (“I get so distracted by some people’s reactions/That I don't see my own faults for what they are”)- every story sets out to pluck a heartstring, to make one think, to feel. In this respect, the target is never missed.
What City and Colour has created here is truly special, setting a benchmark for all other acoustically-oriented albums released thus. Essentially, this album is
Dallas Green. This is his life, his experiences, his troubles and his joys in his own words. Little else can be said- just take fifty minutes out of your day, and open a window into the world of City and Colour.
Bring Me Your Love
Consider it brought.