City and Colour - A Pill for Loneliness
Review by Shannon Shumaker
After six studio albums as City and Colour, Dallas Green certainly seems to have it all figured out. For those who have been listening to City and Colour since its inception, Green’s soothing vocals, the striking visuals in his lyrics and the relaxing songwriting on A Pill for Loneliness will come as no surprise. But even now, fourteen years after the release of Sometimes and four years since the release of his most recent full-length, If I Should Go Before You, he still manages to try new things and experiment with new sounds.
The mellow songwriting and Green’s signature vocal style will seem very familiar on A Pill for Loneliness, but where this album stands out is in the orchestral elements. Lush guitars and stunning vocal work are layered over otherworldly and ethereal strings throughout much of the album, successfully setting it apart from City and Colour’s previous work without alienating fans at all. Where the album is lacking in big sing-along tracks it makes up for in gorgeous songwriting and vivid visuals lyrically.
The best thing about the album is that it rarely feels boring or safe, either. While there are many mellow songs on A Pill for Loneliness, and the vocal melodies might feel a bit familiar compared City and Colour’s previous work, no two songs sound exactly the same. “Living in Lightning” for instance, is a stunning introduction to the album that really sets the tone and solidifies its spectacular songwriting. “Astronaut” follows suit, but the third track, “Imagination” picks up the pace, driven by a strong drumbeat and guitar work. While “Difficult Love” reminisces on young love with bittersweet yet warm tones, “Me and the Moon” feels very theatrical, carried primarily by ambient instrumentals. Songs like “Mountain of Madness” and “Song of Unrest” feel very dark and looming, which contrast heavily with the big, upbeat “Strangers” and the heartbreakingly beautiful closer, “Lay Me Down.”
A Pill for Loneliness has a bit of darkness lying beneath the gorgeous instrumentals, making it well worth a few listens to fully grasp it. With each listen, you’re guaranteed to find something new to love about the album, too. At this point in his career, Dallas Green has clearly established a very distinct, lush sound with City and Colour, mainly through his instantly recognizable vocal melodies, but even on this album, he manages to experiment with his sound more, playing around with more orchestral arrangements in a way that makes it sound familiar, yet fresh.
LISTEN TO: “Imagination” or “Mountain of Madness”
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