There are some artists that audibly define specific moments of your life. No matter how much you or they have grown, you will look back fondly on whatever they provided for you during some distant time that feels just out of your reach. For me, City and Colour goes hand in hand with my college experience. Early albums such as Sometimes and Bring Me Your Love were soundtracks to sleepy mornings inside the college radio booth where I would sit for hours broadcasting sad songs out into the ether. So when I got word that a new City and Colour release was on its way, my past and present self jumped at the opportunity to review.
The Love Still Held Me Near, to be released on March 31st via Still Records, an imprint of Dine Alone Records, will be the sixth album from City and Colour, the moniker for alt-folk singer/songwriter Dallas Green. The album starts with its first single “Meant To Be,” a deeply personal song about a friend Dallas lost tragically in 2019. It takes only 12 seconds for a haunting guitar to echo in, setting the emotional tone for the song and, ultimately, the album to come. “Meant To Be” is about loss and grief, topics scattered throughout this incredibly mature and soulful work.
Other tracks such as “Underground,” “Bow Down To Love,” and the title song “The Love Still Held Me Near” all carry these similar themes while offering hope in finding what we need to make it through. Conceptually, this album is balanced in the darkness and the human tools necessary to battle that darkness. It’s about life, spirituality and meaning, and it’s very clear the thoughtfulness and heart Dallas has woven into every inch of this album.
Sonically, I believe this is City and Colour’s most interesting work to-date. Guitar tones are quite profound and are delivered in emotional bursts throughout. There are six songs of the twelve song album that are over five minutes long, allowing Dallas to really sit you in with it all. This is an album that feels all-encompassing and engrossing. Nods to soul, gospel, and southern rock are all present as well as the alt-folk style this project has so brilliantly achieved.
Even more, Green’s vocals are as impressive as City and Colour’s debut in 2005, perhaps even better. His soothing delivery paired with the cathartic music is easy to get lost in and perhaps that’s my only critique of the album. I found myself drifting at times with this one. I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. It’s an album you can put on and meditate to, ruminate on, and simply journey along with. Go as deep as you need to go with The Love Still Held Me Near. There is a lesson in there for all of us and it’s likely you will take something new away with every listen.
The Love Still Held Me Near is fully available on March 31st but catch the first three singles here: