City and Colour
Dallas Green has stumbled into an unlikely cult stardom. For most of his career the Toronto musician dutifully hefted a guitar for hardcore band Alexisonfire. On the side he wrote emotive acoustic songs but did not believe they would ever find an audience. However, when Alexisonfire fans discovered Green’s secret life as a troubadour, they encouraged him to share his music. Thus was born City and Colour, a side-project that has thoroughly taken over the 33-year-old’s life.
With little media attention, and practically no radio play, the Olympia is nearly a sell-out. Clearly Green has brought his Alexisonfire audience with him, as the room is a sea of hoodies and middle-class piercings. The crowd are enraptured as Green and his group troop stoically on, plunging into the first of many mid-paced ballads, most of which refract Green’s tortured side from a multitude of angles.
At first inspection it is hard to understand why City and Colour has become such a phenomenon. Yes, Green is a deft writer, his sweet voice bubbling with feeling. On the other hand, he really isn’t attempting anything dozens of other songwriters have not accomplished already and his confessional dirges can veer toward workaday.
Still, his best material is quite special. On ‘The Grand Optimist’ he sings movingly about the dangers of false hope, the ways it can warp your life and the lives of those around you; ‘Weightless’ and ‘Body In A Box’ are chilly laments masquerading as coffee-house strum-alongs. There’s a lot of anger in the lyrics, so that the occasional burst of reverb from his guitarist is an important adornment, acknowledging the catharsis Green is reaching towards.
Green is on the cusp of mainstream success. City and Colour’s latest album, the Hurry and the Harm, was a top ten hit in both the US and Canada and he is comfortable in front of an adoring crowd. It’s just a shame that his music, worthy though it is , doesn’t strive harder to win over the uncommitted.
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