Editor's note: A version of this story first appeared in The Georgia Straight, The Coast's Vancouver-based sibling publication, before City and Colour played on the west coast in early February.
“I think I’ve just gotten better at singing,” muses Dallas Green. The man behind indie folk and rock outfit City and Colour’s voice has changed over the years, and the sound of his music has morphed along with it.
City and Colour
w/ Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
and Ruby Waters
Tuesday, February 27 in Halifax
Scotiabank Centre, 1800 Argyle Street
Tickets from $49.50
Part of it is the evolution of his skills, and part of it is, simply, being a human in the world.
“I’m always trying to capture how I’m feeling in that particular moment,” Green reflects via phone. “I feel like the songs have to capture me as the person I am in that moment. It’s like a snapshot of where I was and who I was in that place. It’s this constant sort of search for something more than what you had already done, I guess is kind of what lies at the root of it.”
The change can be heard from his first album, Sometimes, to his seventh and most recent album, The Love Still Held Me Near. While Green agrees that there is a marked difference, he ensures that each album remains authentic to who he is.
“An outside listener, they’re hearing the additional instruments added and maybe the song structure being different, or maybe my voice has obviously changed,” he says. “I think it still sounds like me.”
The Love Still Held Me Near tackles the emotions that Green grappled with while mourning the death of his long-time friend, Karl “Horse” Bareham. Bareham was a British music producer and engineer who worked with Alexisonfire, Green’s other band, on tour starting in the mid-2000s. He was also an integral part of the first City and Colour album. This new record helped move Green through the grieving process.
“I realized that I was addressing a lot of the things I was feeling in the songs, which was my way of therapeutically unleashing a lot of that stuff I was holding on to about it all,” he says. “And then obviously, what you would hope is that you can create something that turns the sadness and the longing into something positive and beautiful, and that can hopefully be relatable to someone else.”
Green also uses the music to address his relationship to faith. He grew up in a Catholic household and attended Catholic school, though he is not religious anymore. But when faced with the loss of Bareham, he found himself reconnecting with the things he had learned as a kid.
“Even if I’ve changed the way that I approach life, it’s still something I was taught, and I know that there are good parts about me that I learned from being brought up that way,” he says of his religious background. “I know that there are certain parts of my personality that were shaped by that.”
Green is currently on a world tour in support of the album. After a European leg ended with three London shows in November 2023, he took a break before starting up again on the west coast in early February. He's playing his way across Canada to the Halifax concert February 27 at the Scotiabank Centre, then the next gig on the schedule is in California in May.
While he has graduated from playing smaller venues like the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium to the stadium crowds of Scotiabank Centre, Green insists that his relationship to his audience is the same.
“It’s about trying to make sure that you present something that reaches everybody in the back of the room as well as the front,” he explains. “Even though it’s a big hockey arena or something like that, I still try to make it feel intimate. We’re all there for a shared experience.”
For those who are fans of Green’s other project, You+Me (a folk collaboration with Pink), there is good news: after 10 years, the duo has recorded some new songs.
“There will be one at some point,” he says of a new You+Me album. “But I have no idea when or where or how or who or what.”
He doesn’t need to have all the answers right now. He’ll sing his way through them when the time comes.
A version of this story first appeared in The Georgia Straight, The Coast's Vancouver-based sibling publication, before City and Colour played on the west coast in early February.