Dallas Green has written his share of love letters. Over the course of five studio albums and numerous EPs as City and Colour, the artist has compiled a canon ripe with songs born of adoration and devotion; reverence and […]
Dallas Green has written his share of love letters. Over the course of five studio albums and numerous EPs as City and Colour, the artist has compiled a canon ripe with songs born of adoration and devotion; reverence and romance. But his latest offering, an intimate live collection titled Guide Me Back Home, is a different kind of love letter – one dedicated to a place instead of a single person.
In the spring of 2017, Green embarked on an extensive Canadian tour with 28 sold-out shows in 25 cities billed as “An Evening with City and Colour.” In contrast with the preceding full-band runs supporting specific studio albums, this one featured only Green accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Matt Kelly performing serene, stripped-down iterations of songs spanning the entire City and Colour catalogue. Guide Me Back Home not only captures the ethereal, entrancing experience of those performances, but also the inspiration behind them.
In 2016, as the support cycle for 2015’s If I Should Go Before You was winding down, a mentally and physically exhausted Green and his wife were watching the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election from their home in Nashville, TN.
“I just didn’t know what to do with myself,” the artist candidly admits. “In terms of my career in some ways, but also, it just felt strange as a Canadian in an American city, watching this thing happen – kind of unsettling and surreal.” That’s when the highways of his homeland started calling out to him.
“I felt like I needed to go see more of the country I’m from – to explore it more deeply and play for people who’ve travelled to see me over the years a little closer to where they might be from, and maybe find some new people that might be willing to listen, too.”
In major cities like Vancouver and Halifax through unassuming centres like Saint-Casimir, QC and Corner Brook, NL, City and Colour performed for two hours in a series of intimate, one-of-a-kind venues. No opening acts, no predetermined setlist, no pretension.
Dulcet and delicate tracks like “O’ Sister” and “Comin’ Home” stay relatively true to their studio versions, whereas the robust arrangements of offerings like “Lover Come Back” and “Sleeping Sickness” are distilled to their purest essences. Hit singles and fan favourites appear alongside deeper and rarely-performed cuts, taken from as many of the dates as possible.
What’s more, long-time friend and producer Karl Bareham’s recordings are entirely enveloping, relaying the endearing rapport of the artist and audience between songs before wrapping the listener in pristine sonic bliss for each one. Every harmony, every pedal steel swell, every callous sliding along an aged steel string is captured and subsequently captivating, as though experienced inside one of the dimly-lit theatres where the drop of a pin would seem thunderous.
The banter before the song “We Found Each Other in the Dark” is indicative of the tour’s overall spirit, with Green encouraging the audience at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown, PE to focus on the good in their lives, and basically just be kinder to one another.
“It just seems the world is so consumed by anger and angst and division, and I guess I was looking to provide a bit of an escape from that,” Green reflects. “I liked the idea of taking a few moments to let people just sit and, if they were there with their friends or loved ones, to put aside what they might be going through, and offer a reminder that there are beautiful things we can focus on.”
It was in reflecting on his body of work and the people who have embraced it over the years that Green found his own antidote to apathy, and so in a way, it felt like a responsibility to amplify that idea and share it with others. That’s how the tour became his love letter to Canada, its places, its people and subsequently how Guide Me Back Home, became his love letter to fans worldwide.
“This is the place I’m from, that I call home. It’s where I first started singing, and it’s just been very welcoming and supportive of me doing what I do, first with Alexisonfire and everything since,” Green shares. “In no way am I naïve to the fact that Canada isn’t void of its own problems and struggles, but I also know I’m very fortunate to call it home.”
Ultimately, Guide Me Back Home represents the ending of one chapter in Green’s ongoing story as an artist and the beginning of another. It will be the first release under his own label, Still Records, an imprint of Dine Alone Records.
“I see Still Records as a way to draw attention to projects that are important to me. Dine Alone was started to put out my first album, and it’s been very successful and grown into something really special since then. Still Records is an extension on those ideals and a place where I’m able to curate a collection of things that I think deserve to be heard and enjoyed.”
Reflecting on this collection and the tour that spawned it, Green is both grateful and humbled. “When I made my first record, Sometimes, as City and Colour, it was just me and my guitar and a few days in the studio. I never imagined many people listening to it, and certainly didn’t imagine being here in this position, getting to share my songs with this many people.”
With a new album worth of songs written and ready to come to life, Green is ready to pen that next chapter and continue on his impressive trajectory with City and Colour. In the meantime though, he’s relishing the opportunity to share this special tribute to the place and people that have made it all possible.
- Dallas Green - Guitar, Vocals