City and Colour

Premier Concerts and Manic Presents:

City and Colour

Noah Gundersen

Fri, June 9, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

College Street Music Hall.

New Haven, CT

$32.00 - $37.00

This event is all ages

This event is General Admission Standing Room on the Floor and Reserved Seated in the Balcony.

City and Colour
City and Colour
There's a line that I'm trying to find, between the water and the open sky," sings Dallas Green on "Friends," the penultimate track off of his fifth release as City and Colour, If I Should Go Before You. For someone like Green, it's hard to imagine that there's much left to search for – he's traversed the globe on tour, released numerous albums (one most recently as You+Me with Alecia Moore, aka P!nk) and collected scores of accolades. Though Green is a musician, he doesn't make a show of things: that's the songs' job. Thus he's done this all quietly, intentionally, still looking for the next answer or dog-eared chapter each record holds. And this time, on If I Should Go Before You, he once again uncovered something new: a certain kind of family in his bandmates.

"It's been a very special two years for me," says Green, about the period since the release of 2013's The Hurry and the Harm, which has seen him touring with the consistent ensemble of Dante Schwebel (guitar: Dan Auerbach, Rumba Shaker), Doug MacGregor (drums: Constantines), Jack Lawrence (bass: The Raconteurs, Dead Weather) and multi-instrumentalist Matt Kelly. "They inspired me to want to create new music, just to create it with them – I don't think I wrote these songs for the band, per se, but I certainly wrote them because of the band."

Green had always been an introspective, solitary writer, demoing songs in his basement, working up every instrumental part by himself. But he considers If I Should Go Before You to be a band record, where the input of these trusted comrades was of the upmost importance. Even more pivotal was trying to capture the essence of their live show symbiosis in the studio; which comes through with an undeniable force. For a project that was very much about the inner world of Green, these relationships have morphed City and Colour into something with more emotive power than ever before: the layers go beyond just music and lyrics, into the people creating the songs themselves.

"Anybody who has seen us play will understand that this is the best representation of what we do live that we have ever recorded," says Green. "I was so excited about being able to make and record an album with these guys that it just flowed. I felt so confident about their abilities to make all of my ideas come true."

But there was one thing that Green did want to do himself this time: produce the record. He returned to Blackbird Studios in Nashville, where The Hurry and the Harm was made, but decided to take the production reigns himself, with the help of friend Karl Bareham as his partner and engineer, along with the masterful mixing skills of Jaquire King (Dawes, Kings of Leon, Tom Waits). Everyone who had a hand in the making of the record was or became part of the City and Colour family. Green's songs have always had a striking, visceral feel that pumps through the veins like oxygen, and, this time, it became a sort of translatable DNA.

Along the way, Nashville has come to be a special refuge for Green – it's a city he's gotten to know for several years now while not in his native Toronto, Canada, and he even recently purchased a home in the town. "In Toronto, I think of what I have to do," he says. "In Nashville, I think of everything I have done."

Indeed, it's a perfect time to think of everything he has done - and If I Should Go Before You is a celebration of that. With instrumentation recorded live off the floor, it comprises every part of the person Green has become over the years: chugging ballads that tug at the gut, aching confessionals set to slicing guitars, little licks of pedal steel for his new southern-swept soul, moody distortion from punk rock roots. Though he's recorded in many incarnations, If I Should Go Before You acts like a roadmap through all of them, showing that none of these were simply "projects," but they were part of the same whole.

The album opens with the sweeping, "Woman," a track that very well could be a surprise to those who might expect a simpler, acoustic-based entrance gate. At over nine minutes long, it's a sultry and dynamic ode to everlasting love expressed through a powerful, layered build of sounds and emotions like a complex sweep of watercolors – a percussive heartbeat, echoing riffs, Green's grounded yet ethereal falsetto. You can almost picture the stage lights spiral across a crowded auditorium; it moves with a life outside just the studio walls. Rare does a record strike a perfect balance between the live sound and studio magic; but this is one of them, that captures the synchronicity of Green and the band at its best both at the controls and on stage, through songs like the deconstructed waltz of the title track, a devastating request to a cherished lover.

"It's about the idea of loving someone so much you want them to move on if you were to go, but loving them so much you wouldn't want to if they did," Green says. "But, in my head, it also says, 'if I were to go, I give you this record to listen to.'" It's a sentiment that expresses just how strongly he feels this album is a key to past, present and future. That's further evidenced in "Friends," written as a heartfelt ode to his new musical family, set to a pedal steel that sounds like it’s weathered too many winters, but finally feeling the melt; or the razor cuts of "Wasted Love," where the confessions of a failed romance are echoed by licks of visceral guitar that plays in wordless response.

Green began recording as City and Colour in 2005, with Sometimes, followed by 2008’s Bring Me Your Love and 2011’s Little Hell, and has experienced huge success both on the charts and the road. All four previous studio albums have achieved platinum status in Canada, while Little Hell is also now Gold in Australia. The Hurry and the Harm debuted at #16 in the USA on the Billboard chart, # 1 on Canada’s Top 200 Chart and #4 in Australia, as City and Colour's highest debut. He also released four records as part of Alexisonfire, which have all received Gold and Platinum certification in Canada, as well as 2014's rose ave. as You+Me with P!nk, which made its entrance at #1 on the Canadian Albums Chart, # 4 in the USA, #2 in Australia and #6 in Germany .

On If I Should Go Before You, Green may have found one answer to what lies between the water and that open sky: it's the people we hold close, and the art born out of friendship. But he will always be searching; and thus, there will always be more songs. Though this time, when he's ready to share them again, he'll know exactly who to turn to.

As he sings on "Northern Blues," "I've got too much in front of me. I didn't leave enough behind."
Noah Gundersen
Noah Gundersen
“Man, in a word, has no nature; what he has is — history.” – Jose Ortega

For Noah Gundersen, the past few years have brought about immense growth and change, both as an artist and as a young man grappling with issues of identity and independence. It should come as little surprise, then, that his stunning new album, ‘Carry The Ghost,’ is so heavily influenced by existential philosophy. What’s so striking, though, is hearing a 25-year-old articulate such weighty themes, packaging them into heartbreakingly gorgeous melodies with a plainspoken language that cuts to the quick upon first listen. Then again, Noah Gundersen has never aimed for ordinary.

Though only a little more than a year has passed since the 2014 release of ‘Ledges,’ ‘Carry The Ghost’ finds an older, more sophisticated Gundersen attempting the difficult work of unraveling our purpose here, searching for answers about the nature of man and the meaning of our relationships. Gundersen came to an understanding of himself as the sum of his experiences, a view he embraces as a positive one and which led him to delve into the works of existentialist writers and philosophers like Ortega. For Gundersen, the personal history that shapes each and every one of us is the titular ghost, and it’s the thread that ties the entire record together.

The album’s more ambitious scale showcases a natural evolution following the success of ‘Ledges,’ which earned raves everywhere from NPR’s World Café to CBS Saturday Morning. Hailed as a “powerful debut” by SPIN, the record delivered on the promise of a string of previous EPs, which poetically tackled issues of faith and doubt and loss and desire as Gundersen transitioned into adulthood. It earned him a devoted national fan base, with many introduced to his music through placements on popular television series like ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ where his introspective and brooding songs proved to be an invaluable piece of the storytelling.

With ‘Carry The Ghost,’ Gundersen once again looked inward to find inspiration. “This album grew out of a desire to know myself, to know how I was supposed to live,” he explains. “And in that process, I realized that maybe there is no ‘supposed to be.’ The concept of ‘Carry The Ghost’ is that we’re made by our experiences and to accept that instead of fighting it. The last several years have been a process of accepting things as they are and to not see them as so black and white or right or wrong, to accept that we’re not made to be a certain way, but that we are involved in an ongoing process of becoming.”

Recorded at Seattle’s Litho Studio, ‘Carry The Ghost’ explores issues of self-discovery and existentialism with an erudite sophistication across 13 magnificent tracks. Collaborating more than ever before with his touring band—which includes his sister Abby and brother Jonathan—Gundersen set out to push boundaries and confound expectations, experimenting with tone and structure and creating rich sonic textures that ebb and flow beneath his stirring, solemn voice.

The album opens with “Slow Dancer,” a haunting piano meditation on the anger and frustration that can often be a part of the process of healing from a broken heart. “Light me up again if it makes you feel free,” he sings. Dramatic as it can be, this is not an album about conflict, but rather acceptance and understanding. “Why try and fix it?” he asks on “The Difference.” “Maybe you were made this way / Maybe the pieces were intentionally different.” Later in the album, he strives to “understand the space between the man and the mirror,” and on “Show Me The Light,” he looks to his first love and recognizes, “You were the worst and the best thing that happened to me.”

“With ‘Show Me The Light’ in particular, there’s a dualism that shaped me and I’m ultimately grateful for, even though it was painful,” says Gundersen. “There are good things to be taken from most bad things. Again, that’s the idea of embracing our history.”

“There’s a social and religious tendency to see ourselves as inherently broken and in need of fixing,” he continues, “and this is me challenging that idea, saying, ‘Maybe we were made this way and maybe we are not actually broken and maybe it’s okay that we don’t have the answers.'”

While Biblical references have frequently played a role in Gundersen’s songwriting, he casts off his last subconscious bonds to religion in “Empty From The Start,” which plays out as something of an existentialist manifesto. “This is all we have / This is all we are / Blood and bones no holy ghost / Empty from the start,” he sings. But rather than leading him to embrace nihilism, the revelation causes Gundersen to find more meaning than ever in humankind, and brings out a new degree of selflessness, as he concludes, “The only thing worth loving more than me is loving you.”

“If we are ultimately alone and there is no God and no one will ever truly know what’s going on inside of us, I think the most valuable thing we can do is to at least attempt to know someone,” he explains. “And that’s what I think love is, whether it’s romantic love or familial or simply friendship or companionship. To make someone else feel slightly less alone, and in that process become slightly less alone yourself, that to me seems like one of the few truly valuable things that we can do in this life.”

The concepts of value and meaning are clearly ones that occupied much of Gundersen’s consciousness during the writing of the album. He tackles the notions on “Selfish Art,” asking, “Am I giving all that I can give? Am I earning the right to live?”

“I think that’s a question that I’ve come to terms with more recently,” he says. “I realized while writing these songs that so much of what I do in life as a professional artist, the idea of getting paid to talk about your feelings, is inherently selfish and narcissistic. While I do believe in the transformative nature of art, I have to be conscious of not becoming self-obsessed, which can come so easily.”

It’s a difficult balance, but perhaps the greatest triumph of ‘Carry The Ghost’ is that Gundersen pulls it off with a seemingly effortless refinement. This is the sound of a songwriter looking inward to look outward, accepting his limitations to liberate himself. It’s the sound of an artist pushing himself mentally and musically to understand his place in the world and seize control of it, and in doing so, illuminating a portrait in which others may see themselves. If Ortega is to be believed, ‘Carry The Ghost’ is the sum sound of Noah Gundersen’s past, but it’s also nothing short of a thrilling preview of his future.
Venue Information:
College Street Music Hall.
238 College Street
New Haven, CT, 06510
http://www.collegestreetmusichall.com