City and Colour – ‘A Pill For Loneliness’

By Yasmin Brown

It’s not unexpected that any release involving Dallas Green in any capacity will conjure immediate goosebumps – but this is never more true than it is for his solo project, City and Colour. 

While many may know him as part of Alexisonfire, the City and Colour project has just as much gravitas, and acts as an opportunity for Green to show off the softer side to his songwriting. Where Alexisonfire encompass anger and aggression, with City and Colour Green is able to channel his more stripped back side, allowing us to take in every word and every emotion in the moment. There’s nothing to get worked up about here – it’s ambient and relaxing, the perfect setting in which to simply exist with your thoughts. 

Where before City and Colour has taken the most influence from folk and country, ‘A Pill for Loneliness’ incorporates an element of pop music and classic rock to that, too. Throughout the 11-track record, you’re taken on a journey through space while keeping one foot on the ground thanks to the bluesy undertones of each track, a refreshing take on the combining of traditional and modern music. 

‘A Pill for Loneliness’ is different to what we’ve grown used to with City and Colour, sure, but what we can always count on for consistency is the angelic nature of his vocals, and how this will always be the most stand-out feature of any City and Colour release. This time, it’s verging on ethereal – an out-of-this-world sensation that infiltrates the entire record. It’s easy to find yourself getting lost in the effortlessness of Green’s vocal range and the way it makes what is already a sensational songwriting endeavour as close to perfect as it gets. 

Green has never been one to clumsily organise a collection of tracks, but this record has been forged with such intricate attention to detail, and is so sonically cohesive, that every track leads into the next flawlessly, making it almost feel like one seamless journey as opposed to 11 individual tracks. Despite multiple songs clocking in at over six minutes, there’s not a moment where you find yourself wondering what’s coming next; instead, you take in every moment as and when it arrives – a true testament to Green’s unparalleled songwriting abilities. When it comes to the album’s design, there isn’t a criticism to be found. 

Lyrically, ‘A Pill For Loneliness’ is sad – to say the least – but by the very nature of the title, it’s built in such a way that this sadness doesn’t not feel isolating. With lyrics such as, “I will not seek forgiveness from a world that’s grown so cold and vicious”, and that describe us as being on “the wrong side of history”, it’s clear that Green is on the side of the people, never more so than during ‘Strangers’ where we are implored to “get back to loving each other”. 

The record closes in a stark yet honest manner, as Green hopelessly repeats, “lay me down, I have had enough”. It’s relatable – another way in which this album acts as a pill for loneliness, as the title so promises – but it also leaves you wondering how you might make a difference. In this hopelessness, somehow, there is hope. 

YASMIN BROWN

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