A Pill For Loneliness is the second album to be released on Dallas Green’s freshly forged Still Records (the new imprint of his label Dine Alone), which he describes as “just a little place for the stuff that’s a bit more specific to my own thing.” It’s the fifth solo album from the Ontario musician (formerly of dynamic post-hardcore act Alexisonfire, who has created under the moniker City and Colour since 2005), which follows four prodigiously acclaimed studio records – the last three of which went to #1 in his native Canada and made the Top 5 in Oz – and this year’s live album Guide Me Back Home.
In crafting the otherworldly, wandering, melancholy beauty of this record, Green admits he’s not brilliant with technology (“My friends that make my records with me always laugh at me, because I make [demos] on GarageBand with a podcast microphone, and they’re like, ‘What the f-ck is this?’ and I’m like, ‘You guys know what I’m f-cking going for!’”), but did use his time in the studio to sift through some experimentation.
The gorgeous Lay Me Down, which is about the current US Presidential goings-on, contains timpani, strings, and the incredible talents of Matt Kelly. “He can play the pedal steel like a county bumpkin if he wants to, but I never really get him to play that way,” the gently-spoken Green smiles. “I really love the moan, the mournful wail, of a pedal steel – and mixed with the strings, it is quite cinematic.”
Green also investigated how the warp of a bullet microphone – the small, rounded, old-timey, control tower-looking mics made for harmonica players – could affect his instruments and voice. “It’s naturally distorted, and kind of sounds like an AM radio,” he explains. “I ran that thing through a bunch of reverb and delay pedals, and then I sang – I did a lot of doubling of the main melody with it, so there’s these ethereal, ghostly sounds on the record.”
The stunning Me and the Moonlight features eddies of spectral electric guitar, the sparse thump of drums and distant shaker, and an utterly graceful melody, clocking in at under three minutes but remaining in your brain’s pockets for much longer. “The first line is something I heard my wife say,” Green says. “I forget what it was about… maybe somebody got in trouble for tweeting something bad? I don’t know. But she said: ‘Not everything you say should be heard.’ I was like, ‘That is such a good line’, and I wrote it down. It’s about the way we are nowadays, with so many f-cking pointless conversations about who’s right or wrong; people arguing online about the most trivial, stupid sh-t, and that’s what our lives become consumed with.”
It’s clear that those kinds of frustrations have geared Green toward living a life marked by clarity of intent, appreciation for communication, and humility – he says that gratitude is something he cannot disentangle from his position. “What I’m grateful for is the fact that I can do this thing that I’ve always wanted to do for a living. [But also], I use the music as a way to get myself out of my own head,” he says. “It’s a way to get what’s on my mind out there, but hopefully in a relatable enough way that other people can take what they need from it. So, I’m grateful for the opportunity to do that, but also to basically work through my own problems via music. I don’t think I’ll ever not feel that way.”
A Pill For Loneliness by City and Colour is out now via Still Records.
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