Review Summary: A promising debut, if a little on the repetitive side.
Dallas Green had always seemed like a talented chap to me. Back in 2002, when Alexisonfire had a bit of integrity and originality, Dallas’ strong vocals and ferocious guitar riffs broke through the loud and energetic music and screams that the rest of the band brought forth. But as the band progressed and gradually changed their sound and blended into the ever-increasing ideal of modern-day pop-punk “screamo”, Alexisonfire had begun their long road of disappointing releases compared to their debut. But what of Dallas Green? Turns out he had a trick up his sleeve should he become more artistically inspired and feels the need to stretch out of the modern-day post-hardcore cube. Dallas Green was, whodathunkit, was into acoustic folk as much as he was into nineties hardcore punk.
Dallas’ debut album under the moniker City and Colour, Sometimes
is a breath of fresh air considering his occasionally monotonous back catalogue. It’s quiet, it’s soothing and it’s occasionally beautiful. The simple formula of quiet whisper-to-yell voice over a simple strumming of an acoustic guitar is considerably effective, especially with a voice as agile and soothing as Dallas’. Green gets to show off his vocal chords on practically every song on the album, which incorporate almost whispering vocals breaking into just as musical yelling seamlessly. The acoustic guitars and, on occasion, mournful pianos create the perfect backdrop to his voice, setting a melancholic mood for the album. “Day Old Hate” and “Hello, I’m In Delaware” are both perfect examples of Dallas’ sense of balance in regard to catchiness, mood, and simple folk methods, but with a twist of sadness and rawness thrown in to make it more interesting.
The main problem with Sometimes
is that it is an extremely repetitive album, and despite it’s appropriately mild length, things tend to get old pretty fast. The first song, “Off By Heart”, is practically useless, a minute and a half of the same chord progression and Dallas showing off his pipes. Right off the bat we’re introduced to the formula that we’ll be hearing for the next 45 minutes, and it’s evident that it’s going to get boring after a while, since the first three tracks are all, essentially, identical and repetitive, despite their catchy nature and a frankly impressive performance from Green. But songs like “Save Your Scissors” and “Sam Malone” seem extremely repetitive and pointless, seeing as Dallas takes no different direction with the songs (both relatively simple) and about midway through each it’s evident that Dallas himself is running out of enthusiasm for his song writing, seeing as how the songs repeat themselves on average more than two times. It doesn’t hurt that they’re still incredibly catchy, but formula indeed gets tiring, whether from the perspective of the whole album or just a single song.
That’s not to say that Sometimes
is a bad album. Dallas has occasional moments of true beauty strewn throughout the album, mostly in his continually impressive vocals and intricate lyrics (“What happens when I grow old, and all my stories have been told?” is a particular line that suits the mellow and down-toned music perfectly). Dallas has, to be honest, written some incredibly beautiful songs, most notably on “Like Knives” and the last two tracks, “Casey’s Song” and “Sometimes (I Wish)”, which all have the down-trodden mood of, well, the rest of the album but the song writing is just all around better and, though they remain repetitive, the performances are fantastic throughout, and Dallas even layers the songs with small guitar and piano solos and a choir. These songs prove that if Dallas were to embrace his more emotionally impacted music than he could truly be the father of a wonderful album.
But for now, Dallas has a cute little album that’s, well, anything but. Though it’s simple and catchy, it’s a very melancholic album, brought both by the very trudging and almost funeral-march-ish music and Dallas’ cool and collected vocals. It’s indeed very impressive in some places, despite its repetitiveness, and Green shows that he is capable of some truly breathtaking moments despite it’s simplicity, but elsewhere he sounds inescapably less sincere, like on the more poppy songs on the soon-to-become singles, “Save Your Scissors” and “Hello, I’m In Delaware”. The song writing never falters by much, but the small difference is very noticeable thanks to the music’s simple nature. But for now, City and Colour’s debut is a good album from a strong and talented voice, and hints of promising things to come. Recommended for those mildly interested in the artist or the genre.