Review Summary: Alexisonfire vocalist's solo effort is solid, but has room for improvement
Change. It’s a terribly tricky little concept. It can be radical and it can be inspirational, and it’s said that “[a] change is as good as a rest”. However, the flipside to that is change isn’t always entirely beneficial, why fix something that isn’t broken? Why try to reinvent the wheel? Change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially in music, and a band deciding to completely overhaul their sound will almost always fall into the camps of being a masterstroke or being an absolutely terrible idea- there is very, very little middle ground.
Thankfully, that’s what side projects are for. Some work out well, some are a car crash waiting to happen; some are original and some carry more vanilla than an ice cream producer. Usually though, these side projects will allow the artist or artists in question to indulge in something a little different. It might be more pretentious, or it might be downright daft. It might be a slight twist on the artist’s usual output, or it might be totally different.
Dallas Green – aka City and Colour – falls into the last category of those listed above. Familiar to many as the voice of Alexisonfire, Dallas’ solo exploits under the City and Colour label take a totally different artistic route to his work with Alexisonfire. Sometimes is an almost entirely acoustic album, with Dallas exhibiting vocal work which is more reminiscent of the likes of Jeff Buckley in terms of range and occasionally tone.
However, that’s not to say that Dallas isn’t very much his own man musically. While there is an element of Buckley there, it’s blended with the acoustic vibes of Chris Carrabba’s early Dashboard Confessional output, except there isn’t the same amount of obvious self pity in the lyrics. Yes, most of the album is tinged with a slight sadness, but it isn’t quite as obnoxious and attention seeking as it could very well have become. Equally so, most of the lyrics do deal with love or the gradual loss of it, which leaves the album occasionally feeling a little one-dimensional in the lyrical department.
Musically, the instrumentation is quite sparse. The majority of the album is acoustic and vocals, occasionally complimented by the odd couple of piano chords or a little section with some clean electric behind it. The overall result of which is allowing Dallas’ vocals to take centre stage. With many, this would lead to disaster, but Dallas’ voice is strong enough to make something which could easily fall apart become something beautiful. That’s not to say that the instrumentation is bland and unimaginative. On the occasions where Dallas’ vocals don’t take centre stage, the guitar work can be more than enough to captivate at times, not due to its complexity, in fact, quite the opposite. The guitar work is entirely beautiful at points simply due to its simplicity, and is proof of the old adage that sometimes less really can be more.
It isn’t entirely rosy though. The album doesn’t have a great deal of variety throughout it, add to that lyrics which, while beautiful, do seem to be a little bit one-dimensional at points, and you have an album which can be a bit of a chore to listen to at times, despite all of the things that it has in its favour. Aside from that, there isn’t a great deal else wrong with it. It will be a little bit of a shock to the system to anyone who goes into it thinking that it will bear the slightest similarity to anything Alexisonfire have produced, and those going into it with that viewpoint may well be disappointed. That, however, is less the fault of the album and more the fault of the listener for going into it with the wrong mindset. It might be one-dimensional in parts in relation to the lyrical side of things, but Sometimes is a strong album. A classic it isn’t, but regardless of that, it’s worth a listen.
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