Review Summary: A retread of past material, with some of their best individual songs.
Singer/songwriter Dallas Green has built quite the following for himself, and rightfully so. His blend of stratosphere-shattering vocals with heart-rending lyricism has the ability to resonate with a wide variety of fans, from listeners of folk music to modern pop lovers. After third release Little Hell
brought more exposure to the band in the form of single "Northern Wind", they continued on in the same commercial-friendly vein with The Hurry and the Harm
There is markedly more atmosphere in this album, as evidenced immediately in album opener "The Hurry and the Harm". The ever present acoustic guitar starts off the song after a bit of built-up distortion, but the beautiful steel guitar in the background sets off Green's crooning and ethereal vocals even more so than that of past albums. The crystal-clear production continues throughout the entirety of The Hurry and the Harm
, and the first four songs breeze by beautifully without any missteps at all. "Of Space and Time" mixes a lush soundscape with hand-wringing self doubt in the lyrics and a triumphantly jangling guitar line, while "The Lonely Life" boasts the most beautiful and ear-catching chorus of the album. Unfortunately, the album slows down dramatically after that. "Paradise" relies heavily on Green's sincere vocals to succeed, but is ultimately nothing new compared to the back discography of this already-accomplished act. This is truly the album's crux, as most of the album seems to be a retread of earlier work. The going-through-the-motions ethos is the antithesis of the passion that was present on past albums and marks The Hurry and the Harm
as merely enjoyable, nothing more.
It's a bit head-scratching to think that just a few years ago Green was lyrically at the top of his story-telling game with gem after gem; most tracks here seem to contain tired, overused clichés. "Commentators" adopts an unnaturally (for this band, at least) peppy tone that flows awkwardly from the overpowering chorus to yawn-inducing verses. "Thirst" sounds like City and Colour trying to recreate "The Fragile Bird" from their last full-length; while it's an incredible song in its own right, it feels like a cheap imitation. When "Ladies and Gentlemen" washes over the listener with warm atmosphere and beautiful melodies, it's too late to name this the band's best release to date, but not too late to say that this still contains some of the band's best songs. It unfortunately feels like some of these were left over from Little Hell
, and considering the incredible leap from second LP Bring Me Your Love
to Little Hell
, it was fair to expect a little more progression from this full-length release. As it stands, Dallas Green and company have created some of their best songs and continue to stand out as one of the more distinguishable alternative pop/folk acts.