June 5, 2011

Sasquatch 2011: City And Colour, Live In Concert (Andy Hess, 6/02/11, NPR)

The Ontario singer-songwriter, one of the founding members of the post-hardcore outfit Alexisonfire, balances the simple beauty of the music with cutting, confessional lyrics. City and Colour's third album, Little Hell, comes out June 7.

Recorded live at The Gorge on Sunday, May 29, City and Colour performs here as part of the 2011 Sasquatch Music Festival outside Seattle, Wash.


Dallas Green as self-critical as ever despite success of City and Colour (Nick Patch, 6/05/11, The Canadian Press)

He delves into his wife's nightmares, into the way he relates to his parents, into fleeting moments of relationship-related despair and into the mental-health struggles endured by his sister.

He says writing about his innermost feelings is not new for him, but he continues to strive for universality even in his most personal pieces.

"When I write songs like that ... I guess I think I write them in a relatable enough way that anyone who's been through something with someone they love, you can easily listen to that song and just replace the word 'sister' with brother, mother, father, or uncle, aunt, anything."

On "The Grand Optimist" — by turns winsome and foreboding — he sings about the schism between his own pessimistic view of the world and his father's upbeat perspective. The title track is about the "ups and downs" in all relationships, and the pain that can be inflicted by two people who love each other ("Could it be that I am meant to cause you all this grief?" he wonders).

The gut-wrenching "O' Sister," meanwhile, finds Green addressing his sister directly, exploring his guilt over being absent on tour while she fought against the "blackness in (her) heart."

"My sister, a few years ago, was going through some mental health issues," he explains. "It was really bothering me and affecting me, mostly because I wasn't home, I was away on tour."

"I couldn't help but write that song, and it was sort of my way of dealing with it, because I wasn't there to deal with my family."

"And it's better now, and ... people say: 'How does your sister feel about that?' She loves it. She loves the song."

He says the same of his wife, "So You Think You Can Dance Canada" host Leah Miller. "Fragile Bird" is about the "really, really weird nightmares and night terrors" that Green says she endures regularly.

"It can be very funny but a lot of times it can be really horrifying," he said. "When you're sleeping next to someone who all of a sudden wakes up and starts screaming, doesn't know where they are."

"Everybody's like: 'Should you be singing about that?' She loves it. She's into it."

Perhaps it helps that the song is groovy and sensual, an upbeat highlight of a record that found Green occasionally veering from the delicate folk on which he's made his name as a solo artist.

It used to be that Green's uptempo songs would be a natural fit for his regular gig as lead singer for the mega-popular post-hardcore outfit Alexisonfire, while City and Colour was used as an outlet for his quieter reflections.

Yet even aside from "Fragile Bird," the tempo picks up often here: there's the rootsy sway of "Natural Disaster," or the electrified lament "Weightless," or the stormy closer "Hope For Now."

And while no one would confuse any of the material on "Little Hell" for the caffeinated chaos regularly conjured up by Alexisonfire, Green acknowledges that the former distinction between his two projects feels increasingly antiquated.

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Posted by at June 5, 2011 6:04 PM

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