Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bring Me Your Love

Today, Dallas Green's solo project City and Colour released its second album, called Bring Me Your Love, and I'm going to do a track by track review of the album. Before we start, and I am going to admit that City and Colour's first album, Sometimes, remains one of my favourite albums ever released, for many reasons, including Dallas Green's unbelievably amazing voice and his tendency to find the most emotional combination of words and chords. I wouldn't call this "emo" but a lot of people would. I listen to "Sometimes" so much that I had to buy another CD because the first one was too scratched! So will his second album match up to my ridiculously high expectations? Or will it crash and burn like Avenged Sevenfold's 2007 album called Avenged Sevenfold?

Track 1, Forgive Me, 2.08
This is a short little intro song that replicates the structure of the first album. It feels like just Green on guitar and he sings rather plaintively of forgiveness. Sometimes love is just not enough, he says, and when I sing this song, I hope you will forgive me. It's a breakup song about dissolution of love, rather than heartbreak. So far, not so good. I like the simple lyrics, but the music isn't capturing me.

Track 2, Confessions, 3.46
This is a song I've heard before - in concert, and on the live album he released. The album version, however, benefits from full instruments, giving the song a sort of "chain gang song" feel. It's a haunting song about some vague crime that Green feels he committed, possibly infidelity. The chorus is very catchy and emotive. The most striking thing about the song is the end when Green harmonizes with himself and cries out "Cause I don't want to be alone tonight". It's very beautiful, the desperation.

Track 3, The Death of Me, 3.10
This song is a little bit more upbeat and faster than the two previous songs. It's also much wordier than any of the other songs. Drinking can be very healing, the song is about. Drinking helps him forget and helps him sleep at night. But the weight of the world is very heavy and he's always going to feel this way, even with the drink. It's an upbeat song with a great catchy chorus, but it suffers from too many lyrics and too many words. That's not to say that it isn't a good song. It's just not terrific.

Track 4, Body In a Box, 4.12
Possibly my favourite track on the album, this is a faster song more folk sounding than anything else. It's starts out with a beautiful harmonica accompaniment to the guitar, both instruments played by Green on this track. The lyrics are utterly fascinating. It's about the relationship between the deceased and the grieving. The funeral is the best party a man can get, and it "only happens when he dies". The interesting part of this song is the second verse, when Green says "don't you bury me six feet underground, just burn my body in a box and let my ashes blow with the wind - out into the night sky". Gorgeous line, and gorgeous delivery. He manages to make the words "night sky" sound like heaven.

Track 5, Sleeping Sickness, 4.08
This is a duet with Gord Downie from the Tragically Hip, I guess reinforcing the Canadiana aspect. Sleeping Sickness is a terrific song with such a strong acoustic guitar sound. The song is about the power of dreams and how they can eventually control us. Green can't sleep because of what haunts him. The chorus is extremely singalong, "someone come someone come and save my life" is the first line. Downie takes the second verse, singing much more wildly than what is expected. Kind of hard to recognize him, really. But his lower voice matches very sweetly with Dallas' higher voice. A great song.

Track 6, What Makes a Man, 3.26
An unbelievably excellent folk song about Green escaping something, his life, his family, his responsibilities, whatever. The lyrics strike a balance between the strong desire to leave, and the cowardice involved in such an escape. A haunting violin punctuates the chorus, and Green's multilayered vocals stretch back, creating an echo. Very haunting.

Track 7, Waiting, 4.54
The single, and possibly the single-est song of the album. There's a great beat to the acoustic guitar, making you want to clap along. This is a complex song, lyrically. The song is about a breakup, but a breakup that may have been necessary. It's also about the futility of love. What's the point? Why do we do the things we do for love? "There's no need to rush, we're just waiting, waiting to die". This song is what I was talking about before - the combination of carefully chosen lyrics and carefully chosen chords to create that emotional punch. This song also features the best line on the whole album - "It's the little things you miss, like waking up all alone". It says so much.

Track 8, Constant Knot, 4.03
The singalong song, as it were. This track features a ba-ba-ba kind of chorus that ends in group vocals (or gang vocals or oozenahs). A song about worry and panic, it is in stark contrast to the previous song. This is a song about the comfort of love, and sleeping next to the one you love and who gives you strength. Another great line in this song: "a haunted man who can't outrun his ghosts, they're in my skin and my bones". The worries we have, they are a part of us.

Track 9, Against The Grain, 3.46
My least favourite song. This is a simple quiet song with only acoustic guitar and harmonica, sort of in the seventies' sing-songwriter vein. It's very slow and doesn't really do it for me. However, it does have some nice lyrics. No matter what happens and what people say and what you think you need, you must always follow your heart. It's not my favourite song, but it's not terrible.

Track 10, The Girl, 6.00
My second favourite song. This is the same lyrics repeated three times, but in three different arrangements. The first is the classic "emo" style, the second is a fast paced singalong, and the third is a more plaintive and just piano, like a funeral song. Green's thank you in the form of a song to the girl that stood by him through absolutely everything. Since the girl doesn't ask for fancy things, he wrote the song for her. It's a beautiful song and the second part is just such a great mood lifter.

Track 11, Sensible Heart, 3.21
A quiet song about following your heart again. We do many stupid things and we say many stupid things, but we've got to learn to trust that which is "burning bright, oh burning bright, my sensible heart". I love this song. Green's voice is so strong and emotive.

Track 12, As Much As I Ever Could, 5.25
The last track and one of the best. The beginning of the song is just oohs and ahhs as a chorus of Greens sing. Then the song begins slowly, with a long intro. Once the lyrics start, it stays quiet and slow, as Green sings of coming back to his lover, across great distance and a metaphorical storm. The chorus is like relief from the sadness of the verses. He pleads, "Bring me your love tonight. So shine a light and guide me back home". The oohs and ahhs return like Chekov's gun, this time in the background, creating an multilayered effect that's so beautiful. And then the oohs and ahhs end the song, and end the album.

Okay, so what do we say? Well... yes, this album is terrific. Dallas Green's power of emotion and songwriting continues to wow me. I thought that he would never top Sometimes. He doesn't overtake Sometimes, but Bring Me Your Love is certainly the equal. At times, heartbreaking, at other times, a moment of glory for love. It's such a tight collection of love songs.

Highly recommended.

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