City and Colour

Mel Bampton | 30 June 2011


People startled by loud noises and neck tattoos might easily overlook the music of Dallas Green. Dallas’s position within the post-hardcore world as guitarist, pianist and vocalist for Canadian outfit Alexisonfire, sometimes keeps his beautiful solo project, City and Colour, off the radar. But this only serves to make it more brilliant. With a penchant for gentle blues, country and a deep love for family, Dallas’s new album Little Hell is one of the greats of 2011.

Little Hell is an emotionally weighty record, with a lot of references to family. What was happening in your own life that, even if the stories aren’t directly yours, enabled you to write with such emotion?

I find it hard to write lyrics from any perspective other than my own. I use writing as a sort of journal. So everything you hear is personal. My family means the world to me, so they are a great source of inspiration. Like the song “O’Sister” is about some anxiety issues my sister went through and how I felt so guilty that I couldn’t be there for her because I was touring around the world. They are my way of paying tribute to the people who matter.

You touch on so many genres within this album. The blues/country tinge is particularly curious. Where’s that coming from?

I love blues and I love country. This time, they just found their way into my song writing process. I love all types of music, regardless of genre. I just love it.

You decided to record this album directly onto tape, which is a time-consuming and courageous move. Why did you do that to yourself?

I chose to record on tape to prove that I can. It’s a hard, tedious process. I definitely have very little patience in the studio and it was a huge lesson in patience. I love the way it sounds – it’s warmer. If you listen closely, you can hear the hiss of the tape machine on the record. I wanted to try to make an album the way they used to be made. You can’t mess up and just digitally alter something. If you make a mistake, it either stays in or you try again.

Where do you ultimately see yourself  as a songwriter?

This is a weird one to answer. I guess I mainly just hope that my next song is better than my last. It’s my own personal goal when I sit down to write a song.

City and Colour’s Little Hell, is out now. It is divine.

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