City And Colour: 10 Essential Tracks

When fame found Dallas Green, he was the singer and guitarist in Canadian post hardcore outfit called Alexisonfire. Dallas was happy with life in the band, but there were songs inside of him, songs that needed to get out. A far cry from the intensity and aggression of Alexisonfire this was quiet, contemplative, and melancholy material, music sedate and altogether unsuited to post hardcore.

To remedy the situation Green began releasing his own music. Just on the side really. The odd single here and there, nothing too serious. Green shared recordings with fans at shows and online.

His ambitions at this stage may have been modest but his music was deeply felt. Many who had heard Green’s solo work quickly fell in love with it. So great was the response to his material in fact that Dallas was compelled to record a full-length album.

When Green began making music as City and Colour – a play on Dallas’ own name being the combination of both a city and a colour – things began moving fast. Within the space of a few years, he had parted with his former band and released a series of chart-topping singles as well as a string of platinum albums.

To this day Green continues to make music. Each new City and Colour album arrives a subtle evolution on that which has come before. He’s even reunited with Alexisonfire.

In having read all this you might now be inclined to think of Dallas a folkie or maybe even a singer-songwriter. But the frequency with which Green refers to the inspiration of Nick Cave, Bob Dylan and Neil Young in his interviews might instead suggest that in all reality he’s closer to one those wayward eclectics you just never can truly peg. That said if you did want to try to pin him down, try to figure out just exactly who he’s been and where he’s going, here are ten songs that tell that story.

‘Comin’ Home’, Sometimes (2005)

Sometimes collects a number of songs Green wrote between the ages of 16 and 21. The exception is ‘Comin’ Home’. The only song on Green’s debut not to have been repurposed from previous material, ‘Comin’ Home’ was Sometimes’ leading single.

‘Hello, I’m In Delaware’, Sometimes (2005)

‘Hello I’m In Delaware’ may reference a Wayne’s World gag but with this song Dallas delivers a hefty dose of emotional anguish. The song deals with hurt, more specifically the feelings coming from being away from a loved one. The song is biographical, telling the story of how Green fell in love in the American state of Delaware but was forced to cut it short to continue touring with Alexisonfire.

‘The Girl’, Bring Me Your Love (2008)

In Green’s view City And Colour didn’t really begin until second album Bring Me Your Love. Taking its name from a short story of Charles Bukowski’s, Bring More Your Love sees Green continuing to sketch out what would become his signature sound. A song about Green’s wife, ‘Girl’ is the best known of Bring Me Your Love’s songs, in no small part due to the fact Green once performed it on a Valentine’s Day special of popular television show One Tree Hill.

‘Sleeping Sickness’, Bring Me Your Love (2008)

‘Sleeping Sickness’ features guest vocals from Tragically Hip’s Gordon Downie. When it comes to delivering lovesick vocals Gordon, like Dallas, isn’t afraid to go all out.   

‘Northern Wind’, Little Hell (2011)

I had written a lot… almost all of the songs I think…. and my wife told me I had to write another love song,” Dallas has said of Little Hell’s ‘Northern Wind’. “I said I wasn’t going to write one just to write one and then I started thinking about the idea behind those relationships where one person is so unbelievably in love with the other but the other person is also in love but they know that there’s something wrong with them. They know that they’re not giving it their all and they’re bringing the other person down in a way. That’s kind of what that song is about.”

‘The Hurry and the Harm’, The Hurry and the Harm (2013)

Debuting at #1 on the Canadian Albums Chart, The Hurry and the Harm established that the commercial accomplishments of Little Hell (Dallas first #1 album) were no mere fluke. 

‘You and Me’, You+Me (2014)

You+Me is Green’s collaborative album with, uh, P!nk. Really? Yup! An unlikely partnering to be sure, but Alecia Moore’s heart-laid-bare songwriting and potent vocals prove a more than a fitting counterpart to Dallas’ own.

‘Lover Come Back’, If I Should Go Before You (2015)

If I Should Go Before You did away with the session musicians Green used sparingly on albums past. Instead Dallas chose to use musicians he’d been playing with on the road. Consequently, the record carries a special kind of energy. Songs like ‘Lover Come Back’ deliver a spontaneous, live-in-the-room feel.

Rain’, Peaceful/Rain (2017)

Green continued to take an informal route to making music with self-produced split single Peaceful/Rain in 2015.

‘Living In Lightning’, A Pill for Loneliness (2019)

‘Living In Lightning’ is the latest single from Green’s forthcoming album A Pill for Loneliness. It’s Green’s sixth record and likely not his last. “For me,” Green once stated, “success has always been the ability to continue doing it.”

City And Colour will be headlining Brisbane Festival this Saturday, and will be embarking on a nationwide tour in 2020.

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