City And Colour – Little Hell

written by: July 1, 2011
Release Date: June 7, 2011


Little Hell as an album is like a full-length love letter in song. Each track lays out metaphors for a relationship that displays a celebration of affection, wonderment and joy.

The songs connect each other with the voice, guitar and drum that remain consistent in every song. The pattern is relatively strict in the way that it follows a template of traditional songmaking without implementing a lot of variety in technical attributes. What’s really profound is the prominence of singer and composer Dallas Green’s sultry voice right from the start of the album.
His voice enters the audio stream before any instruments chime onto the intimate “We Found Each Other In The Dark.” This makes total sense, though, because his voice is so unique and gorgeous. It’s weightless and yet carries so much depth. It’s like James Morrison’s pipes, laying off the scruff and keeping the blues.

Green’s melodies highlight the tenderness in his voice, and the constant strumming acoustic guitar magnifies these. The vocal effects on the record next to the guitar also create a hollow sort of echo that often generates an intended empty feeling. This is prominent in “The Grand Optimist,” “Little Hell” and especially “O’ Sister.”

With the ongoing simple scheme comes the argument that the album is boring. One song from the next might not be decipherable, but that doesn’t write the record off as a failure. It’s also made all right by the fact that there are a handful of moments on the record with lighter beats and a faster pace. This is present in “Natural Disaster” and the Canadian chart topper, “Little Bird.”

Though these particular songs aren’t as profound, they add diversity meanwhile silencing fans who label City and Colour as a one-trick pony.

There’s beauty in the grounding simplicity of the album in its entirety. It not only causes the listener to listen for more subtle variety, but it allows for people to notice strengths in vocal ability or songwriting talent.

Such highlights are most obvious in the penultimate track “Silver And Gold.” It travels through a dream of a peaceful apocalypse. The greatest part is where it tells of how “Colors were drained straight from the sky/The mountains were merely removed from the earth/Silver and gold had lost all its worth/And everything I loved and feared had all at once disappeared.” These words bring together fantastic imagery with emotion and the right musical engineering to create the desired effect.

When the record closes with “Hope For Now,” ending the compilation on a calm and somber note. It’s inclusive as it draws together many familiar feelings from the previous tracks and connecting the piece ultimately. It’s unfortunate that the title is so dismal, because it seems that even the colorful album art works against its meaning. Somehow the lefts and rights on Little Hell shadow the wrongs beneath the rights either way.

City and Colour – Little Hell Tracklist:

  1. “We Found Each Other In the Dark”
  2. “Natural Disasters”
  3. “Grand Optimist”
  4. “Little Hell”
  5. “Fragile Bird”
  6. “Northern Wind”
  7. “O’ Sister”
  8. “Weightless”
  9. “Sorrowing Man”
  10. “Silver and Gold”
  11. “Hope For Now”