City and Colour: A Different Shade of Green

A more melodic, less manic Dallas Green will perform in Red Deer as City and Colour.

A more melodic, less manic Dallas Green will perform in Red Deer as City and Colour.

The last time Green appeared in the city he was spewing a torrent of angry lyrics as a singer with hardcore band Alexisonfire.

This time Green will sing emotive pop-folk songs in his high, poetic voice — tunes that are to Alexisonfire’s loud rants as Ron Sexsmith is to the band Anthrax.

“Growing up, I wasn’t just into one style of music,” explained Green, who hails from St. Catharines, Ont.

As a teen, he swung from listening to “aggressive” grunge bands Alice in Chains and Nirvana to more laid back, lyrical groups. “My mom played music by Sade,” he recalled, and got him hooked on tunes by the Smooth Operator jazz/soul singer.

He still considers Sade’s honeyed voice and dreamy melodies to be“beautiful.”

Green’s City and Colour tracks delve into similar sonic terrain — although his fifth album, If I Should Go Before You, is a departure from the earlier pared-down sounds of just him and his guitar.

The gold-selling release has a “fuller” sound, said Green, who will also be backed by a band of four musicians at the Centrium.

The 35-year-old singer/songwriter, who’s been married to TV host Leah Miller for the eight years, has made some emotion-charged music on this album. The title track projects the course of “endless love” as one of the lovers passes away. The moody nine-minute opener, Woman, with sultry electric guitars and Green’s ethereal falsetto, speaks of love continuing even after the world ends.

But not all of the songs are this earnest. The tune Runaway has been compared to “summery” music by Counting Crows, and Friends, set to a pedal-steel guitar, was written as an ode to his musical band family.

Green considers the album a celebration of everything he’s done so far as City and Colour (a literal pairing of his name, Dallas — for city — and Green — for colour). All instrumentation was recorded live off the floor at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. And Green said, “Anybody who’s seen us play will understand this is the best representation of what we do live.”

The artist who becomes so caught up in the moment while performing that he closes his eyes on stage, feels fortunate to have worked with many great artists in Canada and the U.S., over the years including Gord Downie of Tragically Hip and pop-singer Pink.

He was as floored as anyone about the recent announcement Downie has an inoperable brain tumour. “Shocked is sort of an understatement … I don’t even know what to say about it. It’s hard to comprehend,” Green stated.

Of his collaboration with Pink on the 2014 album Rose Ave. (they recorded under the name You and Me), Green described an amiable process. The U.S. mega-star, also known as Alecia Moore, first became a fan of Green’s, then a friend, after coming backstage to meet him at one of his concerts. “We hit it off, and I opened a couple of her shows in Europe,” he said.

They discussed working together for several years, so when the chance finally came, he recalled “there was no pressure. It didn’t even really feel like work.”

While Green had no idea what they’d end up with, he’s hugely pleased with the critically praised folk-pop album. “It was wonderful to sing with her …”

OVERSET FOLLOWS:Folk music has recently grown in popularity through bands such as The Lumineers and The Strumbellas — and this pleases Green, who started learning the piano and guitar as a boy. “Sometimes I’ve felt almost obsolete holding an acoustic guitar on stage with all of the electric dance music out there,” he said, so seeing renewed support for “human beings playing instruments” is gratifying.

Green began recording as City and Colour in 2005. The solo project become the reason Alexisonfire was disbanded in 2011. While Green doesn’t rule out ever appearing with the hardcore band again, he knows it won’t be to record new music.

He feels there was a time for screaming out lyrics to a mosh pit crowd (“It was a lot of fun …”), and a time to reflect on life and capture impressions in poetic and stirring song lyrics. “Creatively, I feel this is where I feel comfortable now.”

City and Colour performs with Shakey Graves at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $175 from Ticketmaster. Proceeds from some $20 tickets will support the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal.

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