I have to preface this Sunday Morning Music choice by saying I’m not a unqualified fan of City & Colour. The music is very easy to like, but that’s kind of my point. Dallas Green’s voice is arresting and beautiful, but perhaps just a bit too smooth for extended listening sessions. His songwriting is solid, but often lacks a sense of daring. Simply put, most of his songs don’t have an edge, and I need music to have an edge, to be somewhat demanding of its audience, to require both patience and a willingness to enter an album’s universe before yielding meaning or a theme. I guess this preference makes me especially hard on acoustic albums, or anything on the softer side of the spectrum that risks coddling the listener too much.
But I will be buying The Hurry and the Harm, City & Colour’s latest album, and the reason is its lyrics. The four songs I’ve heard contain a new-found boldness that has resulted in a refreshing lyrical directness. It’s not that indirectness in lyrics bothers me, I just find Dallas’s new lyrics captivating because they’re uninterested in mincing words or skating around a point. Take the opening lines of “The Golden State,” for instance: “Why is everyone still singing about California? / Haven’t we heard enough about the Golden State?” He continues in verse three, “Sure there are beautiful people / In the city of lost angels / But fortune and fame won’t save you, when California / Is wiped out by the Ring of Fire or a great earthquake.” It’s honest frustration, not condescension, that he’s feeling, and it’s satisfying to hear this come through relatively unfiltered in an artist who is known for soothing, not for making these kind of statements.
Here is Dallas Green performing “Two Coins” solo in Studio Q. “I’ve always been dark / With a light somewhere in the distance.” I love the way that solitary line comprises the chorus. Enjoy.