In the middle of City and Colour’s latest album The Hurry and the Harm, singer Dallas Green takes a stand against criticism against his work. The song “Commentators” bites back against critics, laying forth a strange thesis in the lines “if I overstay my welcome/I will take my things and leave/because I’m not trying to be revolutionary.” It’s a weird set of lines, especially since he’s speaking directly to critics and Internet trolls by giving them even more ammunition for their vitriol. But, the most unfortunate part of the song is that it interrupts a perfectly good album, to the point where it never really recovers from this strange aside.
Prior to Green throwing a mid-album tantrum, The Hurry and the Harm continues the trajectory of City and Colour’s previous albums, expanding the project’s folk-based melodies into something that is muscular, yet gentle in delivery. Sonically, Green has proven himself capable of transcending the punk-to-folk subgenre that has popped up in the past ten years, going beyond just churning out acoustic versions of songs that would were meant to be louder and faster. Instead, City and Colour has gone to great lengths in painting a sonic brush that makes this more than just a punk-folk record. Just listen to the opener and title track, “The Hurry and the Harm.” The song is filled with guitar effects that give it an epic feel, helping it transcend its trappings.
“Harder Than Stone” continues the album’s excellent beginnings, starting out like a Ryan Adams tune before becoming it’s own thing with a soaring chorus and beautiful slide guitar. The words “I don’t need to be a father/I don’t need you to take my burden away” ring true for anyone looking to go it alone. There’s no revolutionary structure or instrumentation because there doesn’t need to be. All a song like this needs is the earnestness to back up the words and Green does that in spades.
As the album progresses, there’s not much deviation from this formula, but there doesn’t need to be. What Green seems to misunderstand is that people are listening to City and Colour for the melody and for that naked honesty. So, when “Commentators” appears, it feels out of left field, especially with the themes of making it alone appearing throughout the record’s first five songs. Going after critics is never a good thing, just look at the Guns N Roses tune “Get in the Ring” for a great example of how to do it all wrong. But, it’s especially disappointing here because The Hurry and the Harm quickly falls apart in its second half.
That’s not to say everything is bad. “Thirst” and “Take Care” try bring back that early momentum, but there’s too much fluff here. Where those guitar effects and sonic flourishes sounded great at the beginning, it’s tired towards the end. “Ladies and Gentleman” is all bark and no bite, while “The Golden State” is a mix of clichés about California underneath an acoustic strum that is your basic Folk Song 101. A little bit of editing on here and the album could be a trim folk record with a specific theme. But, Green loses the plot halfway through and never really recovers. It’s a shame, but here’s hoping he continues on, instead taking his things and leaving it all behind.