Shortly after seeing City and Colour live last month, I decided to browse YouTube and listen to live versions of Dallas singing. And somehow in doing so, I stumbled across Paulina Faith's version of "Sleeping Sickness." Within seconds, I was entranced and quickly became a subscriber. She's posted about a dozen videos over the last 2-3 years, many of which are covers. As one would expect, some are certainly stronger than others. There are those that leave a little to be desired, and then there are those, that are in a word: revelatory. Foremost of those are her covers of Adele' "One and Only," Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away," and Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning." Her most popular video, said cover of "Sleeping Sickness," was recorded when she was just 15. Her latest, however, Katy Perry's "Wide Awake," just might be her best.
And yet for all the power of her covers, Faith sounds best on her own compositions. Take for instance, "The Bluebird," a bouncy ode to personal fortitude, that has all the trappings of a timeless classic: positive message, confident vocals, a winning chorus. Equally as potent is the uplifting "Anybody But You," a paean to originality and self-worth. The Colorado teenager was actually one of ten finalists in Guitar Center's Who's Next contest, losing out to Tennessee's Josh Doyle. Being that she is only eighteen, one has to think that her share of the spotlight is not too far away. While the promise of a 3-song EP with Grammy-winner John Shanks has eluded her, it seems inevitable that something just as promising is right around the corner. Blessed with movie star good looks, soaring vocals and an innate skill wise beyond her years, there's little reason to think that given the right amount of time, Paulina Faith won't land herself in the center of the national conscience.
Last week I saw City and Colour live for the first time. I've followed Dallas' career from a distance but really got sucked in after my brother gave me a copy of Bring Me Your Love this past Christmas. Sure I'd heard of the album and I had heard "The Girl," but i had never spent time sitting down to digest it. My brother said it best when he told me, "It's your kind of record." I listened and instantly fell in love. From then on, I was hooked. When I spent some time with Little Hell this past January, it only confirmed just how talented Dallas really is.
So finally I saw him live last week.
I won't get hyperbolic and say it was the best concert I've ever been to, but I will say it might have been the most enjoyable concert I've seen this year, next to Zac Brown Band in Daytona Beach. I've been to nearly 25 shows this year, and City and Colour was the second best show I've seen. That's how good it was. But let me soften up all this adulation.
For starters, the audio system at The Beacham can get so shoddy, I always have trouble making out what the headliners are saying. I don't think I caught a single word of his onstage banter, and missed a good chunk of his lyrics. So from that standpoint, it could have been a lot better.
Insofar as the music itself, I was absolutely blown away and astounded by Dallas' backing band. Aaron Goldstein and Daniel Romano have to be two of the most supreme talents I have ever seen. Good Lord. Dallas really tucks himself into his songs and gives it all he's got. If anything, he may have been too restrained. Through the first five songs, he seemed shy, introverted and afraid to step into the spotlight. As the night moved forward, he seemed to step out of his shell. It's hard to pick which songs were best. The fans seemed most stoked about songs from Bring Me Your Love, so "Sleeping Sickness," "The Girl," "What Makes a Man," and "Waiting," all drew huge responses. Personally, I think "Body in a Box," and "As Much as I Ever Could," were the most moving.
And then the songs from Little Hell just blew it out of the water. As good as those songs are on record, they really shine live. "Little Hell," "Weightless," "Fragile Bird," and "Sorrowing Man," are the kind of songs that need a live setting to be fully understood. Much like "Body in a Box," and "As Much as I Ever Could," hit me the hardest, so too did "We Found Each Other in the Dark," and "The Grand Optimist." Also his cover of Low's "Murderer," was pretty much a heart-stopper. God, if they didn't slay it.
Perhaps the reason Dallas and band were so darn awesome is because the openers just didn't do it for me. I've been a fan of David Bazan since I heard Pedro the Lion's Control. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect his live set to disappoint me as much as it did. For starters, he sat down. Now I don't mind the whole sitting in a chair and strumming away on an acoustic, but when you're opening up a show, you need to at least connect with the audience. When you sit down, your mobility is limited and I just feel like it hampers the whole set. Now I am no touring musician, so I have no idea if some days you just don't feel up to it or what not, but God almighty, can you at least seem interested? Once again, the sound at The Beacham sucked, so I have no idea what he said in between songs. He just seemed really uninterested in performing and seemed ready to get off the stage ASAP. His set list is here, if interested.
Daniel Romano opened things up and that was pretty cool. It was nice to walk into a venue and not stand around for an hour before an opener comes on. But Lord love a duck, did Romano have to play EVERY sleepy song in his repertoire? Who wants to go to a set and listen to lullabies one after the other. I'm an avid country music fan, so I absolutely LOVED hearing Porter Wagoner's "Tell Her Lies," George Jones' "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me," and Roger Miller's "Got Two Again," but I never knew when he was playing an original or doing a cover. He seemed to be performing only for himself and not for the crowd. That being written, I did buy his two albums and wish like hell he toured the States more often. Next to Robbie Fulks, I don't know another singer-songwriter that identifies with country music as well as he does. He is a true talent and definitely something to cherish.
I think Canadian artists just understand in a way American musicians never will. But maybe I'm just crazy.