City and Colour’s ‘Little Hell’ – A Review

7 Jun

Dallas Green is a beautiful man. Not necessarily physically (though there are several woman who will surely vouch for him in that respect), but with his musical skill and soaring, majestic vocals, he makes many a man and woman envy and love him at the same time.

Recently Dallas Green was on the verge of selling out the Royal Albert Hall. There were only one or two seats not occupied by awe-inspired individuals who, from the wealth of tattoos and piercings on show, had a solid background in the heavier side of alternative music. Yet they were in one of the country’s most prestigious venues to enjoy one of hardcore’s heroes venting his folk and country desires. Something that many would argue has brought him more success and recognition than his time in Alexisonfire ever could have.

Today saw the released of Dallas Green’s third solo album, under his usual guise of City and Colour. The audience at the Royal Albert Hall were given a sneak preview of some of the songs from the morbidly titled Little Hell, something that’s not always received warmly, but this proved to be the exception. The taster did exactly that, wetted appetites with over a month before the album’s release.

With such an album, it’s difficult to pick out stand-out tracks. The magic comes when they’re played together. What is easier of course is to pick the tracks that cause the record to stumble in the road. ‘Fragile Bird’ is a little out of place, and maybe would have been better rocked up and used on an Alexis album. In turn, ‘Weightless’ feels a little forced at first, but eases into itself towards the end.

Yet such hiccups are easily forgiven when there are gems such as ‘Northern Wind’ with Dallas’ vocals floating hauntingly and the wonderfully honest and personal ‘O’ Sister’ rising above many of the other tracks. Yet, when even the weakest songs are something beyond which most could ever write, it’s difficult to find fault. Needless to say though, if hardcore’s ventures into folk and country aren’t your thing (listen to Thrice‘s The Alchemy Index  and Beggars for a comprehensive lesson in how to change your sound for the better) then City and Colour won’t be for you. However, if it’s right up your street, then Little Hell is a another step forward for Dallas Green, a man who has managed to progress with every album he’s released. This is a magic third album, a time when many a band falls flat and fails to impress. Gone is the feeling that Dallas Green sits in his room alone with his guitar. He has friends now. Little Hell is proof that City and Colour deserve the sell-out shows that they’re achieving. The sound is fuller, and Dallas’ vocals will haunt me for weeks to come…

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