What began as a personal side project for songwriter/guitarist Dallas Green has become big enough to become his main gig. With post-hardcore band alexisonfire now wrapped up, Green’s solo indie-folk moniker City and Colour now takes center stage with his fourth release under that name, The Hurry and the Harm.
Funny, though—this feels like old news. I don’t think anyone thought (least of all Green) City and Colour would gain as much traction as it did, or find such a wide audience. But three platinum-selling albums in his home country of Canada seem to say otherwise, and looking at the evolution of the music itself, I can understand why: Green is a natural at this style of music, and he seems born for it. So it already feels like C&C is now the main event, and The Hurry and the Harm carries a presence to match.
Green seems to be taking a parallel path as fellow indie-folk dude Samuel Bean (aka Iron & Wine) in that sparse musical arrangements don’t seem to be enough for either anymore. Where early C&C releases Sometimes and Bring Me Your Love relied mainly on acoustic guitar and vocal (and occasional foot stomps), 2011’s Little Hell adopted more of a standard rhythm section approach. The Hurry and the Harm takes trend this even further with an even wider palette of instruments, including (gasp!) some electric guitar. The result is that while the indie-folk vibe is still present, this album leans a little more at times toward country and rock. I wouldn’t call it genre-hopping, necessarily. It just feels as though with his prior obligations behind him, Green is embracing his creative freedom, and painting with whatever—er—“colours” he chooses.
What hasn’t changed, though, is the deep introspection in Green’s lyrics, nor his predisposition toward death. He remains unafraid to go to some of the darker places within his own soul and bring them out for all to see and hear. On “Of Space and Time” he laments, “I don’t know what drugs to take / To successfully alter the state / That my mind has been in of late / Something’s eating away at my brain.” Elsewhere, on “Paradise” he sings, “I’m searching for a paradise that I just can’t seem to find,” while on “Two Coins” he ruminates, “I’ve always been in the dark / With light somewhere in the distance…Come fever or come famine / Come the biting winter cold / Just put two coins upon my eyelids / So I can pay the boatman’s toll.” Morbid? Certainly. But also quite honest.
And that, perhaps, is one of the biggest reasons why City and Colour has become the main gig for Dallas Green: he is unflinching in his personal honesty, saying things that lots of people feel but don’t always find the words to say. And with a broader musical spectrum backing him, The Hurry and the Harm blends this brutal honesty with just plain good music. The combination is therapeutic.