For Alecia Moore, aka Pink, and Dallas Green of City and Colour, Thursday night’s show at the intimate Thom Thom Club in Santa Monica was a low-key introduction to their unlikely collaboration, You + Me. In the room’s cozy confines, about 50 friends, family members and insiders watched as the duo sipped wine and shared laughs in between playing songs from their upcoming album, rose ave.
The vibe for their first show was unusually relaxed. At times, Moore and Green could hardly bottle up their enthusiasm for the project. In between songs, they’d joke around, even keeping tally of how many times the other made a mistake. Apart from a slide guitarist who accompanied them for a few songs, it was just the two of them.
The duo met through Moore's husband, the motocross racer Carey Hart — who sang every word at the show with conviction — and had talked about joining forces for about five to six years. Earlier this year, they finally carved out time to write together. Almost instantly, the two had a synergy (assisted by wine) that allowed them to flourish. After a week of writing together, they had enough material for an album.
Even so, the pairing of an over-the-top pop star like Pink (or P!nk, as she prefers) with a singer/songwriter like Green — who in addition to the folksy City and Colour is known for his work in hardcore outfit Alexisonfire — seems odd. When people think of each musician independently, retro folk is not what comes to mind.
Yet the sound they’ve crafted takes both musician’s strengths and showcases a different side. Moore’s underrated vocal range delicately bounces off Green’s acoustic guitar to create a brand of folk that blends elements of the acclaimed Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration with the breezy sound of She & Him.
It’s easy to view side projects like You + Me as a chance for stars to pretend they’re not famous and “return to their roots." But they can also be the only way for successful musicians to explore other genres.
In a Q&A session during their set, both Moore and Green said they were cognizant that this project could potentially alienate fans if it were released as "P!nk + City and Colour." Much like Green Day's Foxboro Hot Tubs or Tom Morello's The Nightwatchman, You + Me allows this pair to release music that's a big departure from the sound their fans are accustomed to hearing.
They've even taken the added step of using their real names. You + Me is a collaboration between Alecia Moore and Dallas Green, not Pink and City and Colour. In the Q&A, both Moore and Green said that the songs needed to be listened to freshly and without any preconceived notions of what they should sound like, based on the music they’re already known for.
To that end, the duo were originally planning on putting out the album quietly without promotion. But they also want it to be heard. So instead, they're releasing it on a major label (RCA Records) and giving interviews to Time and Billboard, among others.
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So don't expect to see You + Me in a venue as small as Thom Thom Club again anytime soon. But if you listen to rose ave., which comes out today, you will hear two talented artists stretching outside their comfort zone — and maybe, by doing so, attracting listeners who might not have paid attention to their previous work.