City and Colour
Little Hell


4.0
excellent

Review

by Caleb McAlpine USER (108 Reviews)
June 10th, 2011 | 220 replies | 41,793 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dallas Green at his most intimate and, ultimately, most heartbreaking.

31 of 31 thought this review was well written

You know that awkward moment when Hayley Williams says she doesn’t think she’s really that attractive? It’s an absolutely improbable self-humility - of course, you’re hot. Get with it. How about John Mayer, playing that that starry-eyed, tragic hero who shreds a Stratocaster in half and then coldly says, “I’m not that good at guitar and teenaged girls don’t like me that much.” Don’t you just want to punch that creep in the face? Humility, I value. False-humility can get stuffed. Dallas Green, by all means and criteria, should be on this list too. He’s a national superstar in Canada for his work with both Alexisonfire and City and Colour and his slow but steady trickle over the borders is making him a global name. And now he’s 30, he’s just released his third solo album Little Hell under his cleverly eponymous moniker and he still has the nerve to sing “I’m like a jack of all trades who’s a master of none.” But no. Somehow, he’s believable. Somehow, Little Hell ends up being Green’s most honest and intimate album yet. He still sings and writes like he’s not so sure just why everybody thinks he’s “awesome” but Little Hell does nothing except affirm that Green only becomes more awesome with time.

Unlike Sometimes, Green is done singing empty cliches about heartbreak (I guess it helps that he’s married) and has chosen a road less travelled lyrically. ‘Fragile Bird’, the album’s one-off Black Keys homage, details his wife’s reoccurring night terrors (”all that I can do is hope she makes it through the night”) and in ‘O’Sister’, he openly and emotionally sings of his sister’s mental illness in his most fantastic songwriting performance yet (“What have the demons done? Is it the whispering ghosts that you fear the most?”). These deeply personal topics help create the intimacy that ultimately makes Little Hell so unique within Green’s catalogue. ‘The Grand Optimist’, in its stripped down folk approach, enters simply with a plunky acoustic guitar, brings in a powerful Bon Iver-esque chorus and ends with Green confessing he’d “gained no strength from counting the beads on a rosary but now the wound has begun to turn”. This is the same guy that sang the cliche “I’ve been known to fall in love but sometimes love just isn’t enough” three years ago. Sure, his honesty was convincing then but now he’s got the words to back up his emotion. In spades.

Yet not only has he expanded himself lyrically, he’s musically more creative than ever. It turns out, he’s a jack of all trades and a master of... well, all of them. Obvious cuts like ‘Fragile Bird’ and ‘Weightless’ stray far from Green’s folksy roots with a complete absence of acoustic guitar but more than make up for it with their strong hooks and creative instrumentation. ‘Weightless’ has a confident, almost-bluesy bounce that, when accompanied by Green’s always incredible voice, competes with any claims that ‘Hello, I’m In Delaware’ was the best thing he could do. And while the folkier, stripped-down approaches we met on 2008’s Bring Me Your Love are still in tact in songs like ‘Silver and Gold’, ‘Northern Wind’ and ‘O’Sister’, Green also manages to write some fantastic mid-tempo songs that sit comfortably somewhere between his energy and his recluse. Steel guitar and piano help opener ‘We Found Each Other in the Dark’ flow almost voluptuously above the reverb-soaked drums while Green’s vocals, more than ever, kind of just drip off the entire thing like honey. It’s amazingly slick. ‘Natural Disaster’ and closer ‘Hope For Now’ are a little less subtle - the former bounces along carelessly like some corny Decemberists song while the latter burns slowly on a keyboard-lick before exploding into an engrossing bomb of feedback, humming distortion, and almost post-rock like heavy atmosphere. It’s more bombast than we’re used from the City and Colour brand but it’s a very welcome change of pace.

But yes, at the end of all roads, the reason why Green is even famous in the first place is still his angelic voice and, rest assured, it’s gone nowhere. ‘Sorrowing Man’, another mid-tempo stroke of genius is typical Green melancholy but the man manages to stretch his voice to part of his range we haven’t heard since Alexisonfire’s Watch Out! in 2004. His harrowing vocal performance in ‘O’Sister’ is enough to affect any lister, let alone the song’s subject matter. I mean, ‘Little Hell’ is absolutely commanded by Green’s voice - he’s reached the point in which he can sing a beautifully simple melody and make it sound like heaven just by being him. Yet, like I said, this is a man who attests to not understanding what makes his work so engrossing. I honestly hope he listens to Little Hell a couple of times and just feels proud of it. It’s by far the best work he’s put out in his life and one of the most enveloping things to come out this year.

He sings in ‘Hope For Now’, “How can I instill such hope but be left with none of my own?” I don’t know, Mr. Green. I really don’t know.



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3.9
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someguest (4)
The moment when you discover that 'living at last' isn't as joyous as you had hoped....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
June 10th 2011



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

reviews aren't art, no exceptions here. just music being music and me loving it

also hi. i'm only here because knott told me in a pub to review again

crazyblinddude
June 10th 2011



3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Totally clicked on the album expecting to see the soundoff page.

Pleasant surprise though. Good review. I was actually about to spin this tonight.

DoubtGin
June 10th 2011



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea this is excellent

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2011



10239 Comments


who is caleb mcalpine

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Waior
June 10th 2011



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

citizen of the world

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2011



7018 Comments


i'm intrigued. reads like a 4.5 btw.

Digging: Braid - No Coast

Waior
June 10th 2011



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

it might be. i'll wait for that

Sanders
June 10th 2011



2339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Need to check this out. Great review.

Tyrael
June 10th 2011



20713 Comments


Great review. I'm glad you're back.

Alucard125
June 10th 2011



534 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, need to check this out. Didn't like Bring Me Your Love at all, but Sometimes and his live album are really good.

thebhoy
Emeritus
June 10th 2011



4459 Comments


Heard one of the songs off of this on the radio and yeah I was not interested because it sounded liked City and Colour

Waior
June 10th 2011



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I actually really prefer Bring Me Your Love to Sometimes although both are nice albums. Sometimes is
just too somber and self-pitying for my tastes sometimes, I guess - comes off as super cheesy but his voice his ace
and nothing is better than 'Hello, I'm In Delaware.'

Boo, Keelan. This is the best he's ever been.

00mee
June 10th 2011



204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Was halfway through a review for this, but yours puts mine to shame.

Great review, love the opening paragraph.

MO
June 10th 2011



18181 Comments


Great review dood.

Just check this: "is enough to affect any lister"

Knott-
Emeritus
June 10th 2011



10194 Comments


YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Knott-
Emeritus
June 10th 2011



10194 Comments


my influence knows no bounds

great review, i will actually check this out

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2011



15281 Comments


Nice review Wooaayor. Nice to see you back.

Will check this out for sure, I think I remember seeing a stream for it somewhere

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Waior
June 10th 2011



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

pleased to be around again, thanks!

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2011



7135 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Who the hell is Waior and why is he a Contrib?*

* By this I mean good to see you again, mate =)

TomAkaVeto
June 10th 2011



1593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. I wasn't too stoked on this album at first, but now I'm digging it quite a bit. Still not sure if I like it better
than Bring Me Your Love, but it's great, for sure.



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