Album Review: City and Colour – If I Should Go Before You (2015 LP)

Dallas Green is a man of great talents. Since the days of Alexisonfire, Green has been setting himself up by putting together music that is emotive, intricate and personal. There’s no denying that what he writes lyrically empowers many others too. With Green’s latest offering, If I Should Go Before You, we see him experiment more with a blues, acoustic-folk sound, resonating an Americana twist to his music. There’s more of a consistent approach in terms of sound with Green channeling something that meets the expectation of any City and Colour record; the ability to make one person feel all kinds of emotions – lyrically and musically.

Hearing opener, “Woman”, is nine minutes of intense instrumentation, showcasing lots of guitar licks and Green’s incredible voice melting away with the music. For something as intense as this opening track, it’s interesting to see Green put forward something that highly impresses any listeners that may stumble upon this music. Carrying forward on what he did on The Hurry and the Harm, there’s a strong blues-edge to it, evoking all kinds of emotions. The lyrics itself are self-explanatory with its love-themed, poignant content, showing Green’s natural flair in writing songs with a poetic touch.

“Mizzy C” feels so fitting if it were played out in an episode of One Tree Hill. With its rocky vibes created by the drums and guitars – it’s a perfect song to play after a drama-filled event. The lyrics “Struggling to find the rhythm / In these blues of mine” talks about the struggle Green has faced in regards to finding a place with his art. The honesty in his words is something you find so heartwarming because when he shares this struggle, it connects with others on a much deeper and personal level.

Green has always had this talent especially in his third studio record, Little Hell. He has a way of letting go of feelings that he’s felt for a long time and has turned them into songs. With this, you begin to realise that he has a career many people have dreamed of doing but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been easy for him. As he shares this struggle, you’ll find beauty by feeling something empowering in his art.

“Map of the World” is an enjoyable song with its upbeat nature and the music itself perfectly uses the piano. The band playing feels so full and it’s hard not to notice this huge difference compared to his last releases; showing more fluidity in their musicianship. In this aspect, it’s refreshing to hear a band that understands Green’s work musically and as a listener you taste the full flavours of their instruments so passionately.

“Wasted Love” showcases this too and there’s a strong bluesy-edge. Of course, the number itself is bittersweet with lyrics on a rough heartache but the loudness stemming from the band is felt way more through its detailed guitar solos and drums. This song would be great if heard live in an intimate space, truly seeing the masterpiece of Green and his band in the flesh.

If there’s anything that goes by it, If I Should Go Before You is another one of Green’s finest works in his career. For a long time fan like myself, it’s really nice to see the Canadian musician change up things for himself musically by moving forward from his acoustic-emo roots to one with a blues edge.

Furthermore, Green has solid chemistry with his current band, having them bring a sense of liveliness in his art.  Even though this new sound dynamic didn’t click at first, there’s no denying that the crafting of lyrics still remain the strongest quality he has showcased as a musician. There’s a lot of things to appreciate from this record, be it from its fluid nature in sound to its passionate storytelling, Green will always be a mastermind for putting forward work that hits close to home for so many people.

Review Score: 8.5 out of 10

If I Should Go Before You is available now