Wednesday, March 8, 2017
When Dallas Green released his first music as City and Colour in 2005, he says it was meant to be a collection of "other songs."
At the time, the Canadian singer-songwriter was focused on fronting post-hardcore act Alexisonfire, which was garnering international acclaim for its self-titled album in 2002 and its sophomore release, "Watch Out!," in 2004.
Then, City and Colour's stripped-down acoustic debut, "Sometimes," sold more than 100,000 copies, earning platinum status in Canada and kick-starting Green's career as a solo artist.
"I thought maybe the kids who liked Alexisonfire would dig it, or maybe the kids who liked the softer parts of Alexisonfire would dig it," Green says. "But I had no idea it was going to create a sort of platform for me to complain in my songs for the next 10 years."
Since then, Green's successive albums—2008's "Bring Me Your Love," 2011's "Little Hell," 2013's "The Hurry and the Harm" and 2015's "If I Should Go Before You"—have all gone platinum. The latter peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's alternative charts, as well as No. 1 on the Americana and folk chart, despite being the greatest departure from those genres thus far. Green also released two new singles, "Rain" and "Peaceful Road," on Friday, March 3.
While City and Colour has featured full-band arrangements on several songs in the past, "If I Should Go Before You" is its first album to feature a set ensemble of players. After recording "The Hurry and the Harm" with session musicians, Green quietly began piecing together a permanent lineup while touring that record, teaming with bassist Jack Lawrence, who also played on "Hurry," drummer Doug MacGregor, guitarist Dante Schwebel and multi-instrumentalist Matt Kelly.
On past albums, Green says he had to demo everything alone and play every instrument to flesh out the song. With much of "If I Should Go," he was able to bring the framework of each song to his band mates, and they would work through the song together as a group. The result is a wider variety of sounds, with more soulful, blues-inspired tracks, and with electric guitar replacing most of City and Colour's acoustic-guitar base.
Green says there have always been listeners who want him to return to the vocals-and-acoustic-only approach of his first record, and he understands that those songs are close to some people's hearts. However, the core of City and Colour hasn't changed even if the sound has, he says.
"I think my answer to that has always been, 'If the song's good, it doesn't matter if there's drums or stuff,'" he says. "You can look past all that. It's still me singing it. As long as it's still my voice and writing at the center of it, just give it a shot, you know?
"From what I understand, from having been on tour and playing the new songs, people seem to dig it. I think the band is really good, and when we play live, it's a totally different experience, as well. I think that hopefully allows people to see the full picture, once they see the band play, to understand why I'm so excited about having these guys playing with me."
City and Colour performs at 9 p.m., Thursday, March 9, at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). Tickets are $35 in advance at ardenland.net and $40 at the door. For more information, visit cityandcolour.com.