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City and Colour - The Love Still Held Me Near (Album Review)

Wednesday, 05 April 2023 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Vanessa Heins

Death is a cruel aspect of life. The loss of an elder tends to be easier to stomach—we can attempt to rationalise the hole we have been left with. “It was their time,” we say. But when we lose a peer or a friend there are no platitudes with which to wrap ourselves in. The grief cuts deeper, not only because of the cruelty that accompanies a premature departure, but also because it focuses our minds on our own mortality.

Grief is a key theme behind the new City and Colour record, ‘The Love Still Held Me Near’. Having lost a cousin and close friend in quick succession while staring down what he feared would be the end of his marriage, Dallas Green set about writing songs as a coping mechanism.

The resulting 12 tracks combine fond memories, words of wisdom and fears for an altered future. 

On ‘The Love Still Held Me Near’ Green sounds like he is communicating with his younger self, reaching back through the years to offer sage advice to the young man fronting the legendary post-hardcore band Alexisonfire. 

Whether it is on the smoky soul of Without Warning or the rollicking honky-tonk of Hard, Hard Time Green’s grief has infused him with an emboldened vision of the types of songs he is capable of writing. 

Doubling down on his widescreen Americana, this is a record of epic proportions, and Green's voice sounds as youthful as ever, tying him to his former self. At times evoking Jeff Buckley, it is framed front and centre of the record, towering above the formidable prowess of his backing band.

The past few years have been tough for Green, and you can hear that pain in his words. But you also can’t overlook the optimism carved into his compositions. It's as if he understands that life's cruelest aspects demand the biggest response. 


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