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City And Colour has grown and changed so seamlessly it’s hard to remember how sad we were the first time we heard Day Old Hate, all those years ago. The project has gone from the melancholy musings of a guy and his guitar to a full-blown band embarking on world tours. Dallas Green, frontman and namesake, has since turned this side-project running parallel to Alexisonfire into his heart and soul. Change has come in winds for City And Colour but with The Hurry And The Harm finally in our hands we’ve can see that, without a doubt, it has been a positive process.
This record marks a distinct shift from the sad to the hopeful, a lusting for change that is heard loud and clear within its chordy jangles and southern tones. It seems the move south from Canada to Nashville has had quite an impact on the sound itself, exactly what we’d like to hear during the twilight hours of a folk and blues festival.
What The Hurry And The Harm does best above all is conjure scenes of the most vivid nostalgia. It’s a painting of a point in Green’s life that manifests itself more in the upbeat than the angsty. The Lonely Life is an excellent example of this new approach – it’s a simpler sound and a more typical structure that abandons nothing with regards to the deeply emotional vibe of the band.
It appears a conscious effort has been made to lighten the sad tones of previous records, perhaps in order to distance City And Colour from the post-hardcore angst of Alexisonfire. For instance, the replacement of heartbreaking fingerpicked trills has, over the last album or two, been supplemented with an almost blues-like riffing.
Within music, while sadness is often the richest vein of inspiration, true art lies in realising emotional change. With this in mind Commentators is one of the most optimistic, lighthearted tunes we’ve heard from the band thus far. It’s borderline smile-inducing. Of Space And Time also gives an excellent taste of how this new direction lends itself more to being played on festival stages than on sad, moody playlists in darkened bedrooms.
The changing style is a monument to the musicianship of Green. The live show hasn’t been the one-man band of old for quite a while now and we’ve seen a dramatic change in heart. However, Dallas has obviously set a very distinct vision for what this band would become and it appears those colours don’t run. A snare drum or two (or three, and a bass, as heard on the delightfully fresh Thirst) isn’t enough to shake away the feeling that this is the same artist fans came to know and love 8 years ago.
Lyrically, The Hurry And The Harm is as wrapped in apt metaphor and delightful prose as any other City And Colour creation, though no lines stand out as vivid realisations of pain as in some earlier works. Instead we are gifted with a beautiful simplicity that details the sweeping scenes of hope and change that is reflected in the instrumental component of the record.
It’s hard to find a gripe with this album, though a changing wind has passed through City And Colour. It’s a change that fans knew was coming, and was perhaps long overdue. The only bone to pick is perhaps the order of songs on the album itself – individually, each track is both heartfelt and unique, but finishing a record that began on such a hopeful note with a bitter-sweet ballad such as Death’s Song is an odd choice.
Regardless, if you’ve held a long-lasting love for Dallas Green and his guitar, or are completely new to the voice of City And Colour, this record is a testament to one of the most consistently genuine and heartfelt bands on the scene and one you absolutely must hear this winter.