Dallas Green is most known for his antics in post-hardcore band Alexisonfire, bringing out awesome riffs that feel raw and energetic. However, it's in his solo project City And Colour that his songwriting abilities truely shine. Reminiscent of Dashboard Confessional's The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
, Dallas combines simple melodies with acoustically-fueled pop tunes that emphasise emotional lyrics. It doesn't sound like the most original idea on paper, but it's a whole other story in the music.
"...Off By Heart" begins the album as a sort of introduction track, with just under 2 minutes of play time. A simple chord structure backs up Dallas' high-pitched style of singing, and lyrics like "Forgive me for I am the ocean/And I will stop for you" make this a short and sweet easing into City And Colour's style of play. "Like Knives" is the first notable song on the album, clocking in four and a half minutes. The main structure of a CAC song is a well-played yet seemingly basic acoustic harmony with Dallas' strong voice softly singing the lyrics. There isn't much more else in the songs, except sometimes another acoustic guitar or a piano or something. "Like Knives" well demonstrates how easy it can be to convey songs like this, with the volume of the guitar increasing and decreasing gently during chorus and verse changes, and using the lyrics as a strength. Dallas' voice gets louder at the end, and it sells the lyrics a lot more. "Hello, I'm In Delaware" is much more melodic, with shifts between chords being strummed and beautifully picked bursts on the higher strings. With some apearances from a string section as well, this really feels much more relaxed and heartfelt than the previous song, and is no doubt one of the best on the record. Dallas' vocals and acoustic guitar blend together to perfection here, and it flows into the uplifting "Save Your Scissors", quite easily my personal favourite of Dallas'. With a more upbeat melody and dual acoustic guitars providing just the right amount of strumming and picking, Dallas' lyrics ring out so nicely. Lyrics like "So why does it always seem that every time I turn around sombody falls in love with me", it really proves that basic structures can sometimes be the most rewarding.
"In The Water I Am Beautiful" once again feels like a raw mixture of lyrics pouring with emotion and more simple chord structures. This is one of Dallas' first songs, so it's easy to see how much time he spent on the lyrics, with "Now three months equals eternity and this will be so hard/And I will long to hold you in my arms" flowing effortlessly. It also feels like one of his older songs, with ocassional palm-muted bits and much darker and AIOF-style rhythms. "Day Old Hate" begins with a very downbeat mood, with much more focus on the picking rather than strumming of the guitar. Dallas' vocals last for ages, yet the lyrics are so short, and you really get that feeling of a heartwrenching tale he's telling. It's also about 6 minutes, so the song does drag out a little bit, but it's such a relaxing song to listen to. So when "Sam Malone" picks up, it has that destressful and folksy kind of feeling to it. It does feel very jazzy with it's slow tempo and occasional picking of the acoustic guitar, and the mixture between the two has a sort of Western vibe to it. It's a great song, and Dallas' vocals shine again throughout the chorus of this song. It's a joy to hear.
"Comin' Home" is unbelieveably the only new Dallas song on this 10-song album. It really feels like a newer song as well, and you can hear a lot of passion in the vocals when Dallas repeats "I'm comin' home" in the chorus. I said this before, but it works so effectively and feels like it was written in a heartbeat. The music sounds similar to the previous song, with little licks of high-pitched picking every now and then over a nicenly strummed chord progression. "Casey's Song" is the only song on the album to include a kind of percussion, with heartbeat-style "Dum dum! Dum dum!" sounfs in the bridge. It's a very addictive song, and gives the album a much needed dose of cheerfulness. The album caps off with the melancholy efforts of "Sometimes (I Wish)", another slower song which reaches a full 6 minutes. The song feels like a build-up throughout, with string instruments slipping their way in at the 2 minute mark. But in the end, Dallas' effortless strumming of the guitar overshadows it all and accompanies the lyrics so well.
It's quite a simple note that from these songs, Dallas is a depressed guy. With many of the lyrics about loss of people, and of himself, and the music providing a sorrowful tune to his words, it's hard to see the appeal of this music. But besides from the lyrics, this is one hell of a relaxing album. It is recorded very well, with the acoustic guitars sounding perfect and the lesser-used instruments like piano and violins being used well in the songs to add that extra level of tension and emotion. Right now I have listened to this album and I do feel quite drowsy, but in a good way. His music has a certain charm to it, and it feels so monsterously different from anything Alexisonfire have done. Maybe that's the appeal of his music, I don't know. But I do know that he can pull out some incredibly basic and in some cases quite cliché music, that is desperate for you to listen and become addicted to. It's not the kind of music you would listen to on the way home from work or around town through your MP3 player, but more the kind you fall asleep to, the kind you listen to when you feel like Dallas is singing.
My only gripe with this album is that there is only 1 new real song. The rest were featured on his previous 2 efforts, The Death Of Me
and the cleverly titled The Death Of Me EP
. Still, the reworkings of the older songs feels miraculous, and really brings out Dallas' voice much more. So if you like acoustic music with a hint of sadness and depression, but at the same time want to be taken away by breathtaking and simple lyrics, I highly suggest looking into City And Colour.
[url]http://www.myspace.com/dallasgreen[/url] (Listen to "Save Your Scissors")