The album received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, based on 11 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
Green began performing the songs "O' Sister" and "Silver and Gold" live as far back as on his Canadian tour in September 2009, while most of the album was already written, although it was not recorded until January 2011. Although "O' Sister" was confirmed by Green to be the first single, "Fragile Bird" was released instead as the first single, on April 5, 2011. The music video of "Fragile Bird" premiered on Dallas' YouTube channel on May 26, 2011. On February 23, 2011, Green revealed the album's name as being Little Hell. On March 23, 2011, Green revealed the album's track listing and release date on his MySpace blog. On May 31, 2011, a week before the release, the album was streamed for free through the websites of MTV and MuchMusic for Canadian residents. The album debuted at #1 on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling over 20,000 copies in its first week. The album debuted at #28 on the US Billboard 200.