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City And Colour: 'Sleeping Sickness'

City and Colour's Dallas Green.
City and Colour's Dallas Green.

It's important to note how much good music is coming from our northern neighbors these days. City and Colour is the solo project of Ontario-native Dallas Green, founding member of the Canadian band Alexisonfire. Bring Me Your Love is Green's second full-length release under the City and Colour moniker. The record's acoustic, singer-songwriter work balances beautifully simple music and powerful vocals with heavy, confessional lyrics.

Green's voice is truly captivating. The range from near whispers to fearless belts wring every melancholic lyric out dry. It's hard to hear Green sing and not get the sense that he's saying something immensely important, even if what that might be isn't immediately obvious. For City and Colour, choruses are more like insistent proclamations and verses are horror stories. And yet, aside from the album's (sometimes) very dark lyrical urgency, the record is actually very poppy.

On "Sleeping Sickness," Green is joined by singer Gordon Downie, from Tragically Hip, one of Canada's most popular and influential bands. Green sings on the opening verse, while Downie comes in spectacularly on the chorus, singing, "Someone come and save my life." There are some depressing images of nightmares, misery, and death. But the track also sports a catchy melody, upbeat acoustic guitars, and well-placed hand claps. Whether or not the song is meant to be ironic is unclear, but when the music works this well it hardly matters.

"What Makes a Man?" isn't as fun musically, but Green's gorgeous croon still gives the track a sense of beauty juxtaposed against the end-is-near lyrics "I can hear my train comin'."

This push-pull aesthetic, present throughout the album, allows the music to be incredibly emotive without sounding overly solemn, and pleasant without being sugary. Instead the album falls somewhere in the middle, taking the best of both worlds, with sometimes surprising and enchanting results.

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Conor McKay