Artist Spotlight

Review: City and Colour, “If I Should Go Before You”

No Comments 11 October 2015

Review: City and Colour, “If I Should Go Before You”

If I Should Go Before You is full of warmth, complexity and some achingly gorgeous performances that cut straight to the heart. Dallas Green continues to impress with his ability to deliver soulful lyrics and breathtaking vocals that seem to both defy and define the laws of nature.”

Artist: City and Colour

Album: If I Should Go Before You

Genre: Folk / Rock

RIYL: Dan Auerbach, Jeff Buckley, Bright Eyes, Bon Iver

City and Colour If I Should Go Before You

When the expansive and curiously crafted “Woman” kicks off If I Should Go Before You, it’s very clear that the familiar songwriting we’ve come to expect from Dallas Green (aka City and Colour) has evolved. What is also clear is that there’s possibly less introspection and insecurity lacing his lyrics and instrumentation in favor of more collaboration and exploration.

But let me press pause, because I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how this path continues the journey that Green’s last record, 2013’s The Hurry and the Harm, took us on creatively. That record was the pinnacle of Green’s more insulated style of truly solo creation - recording and arranging all the instrumentation and writing within himself. With the release of If I Should Go Before You, however, Green has stepped out of this isolation and opened himself up to more of a collective effort; and that step is rewarded on every track. Touring bandmates Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) on bass, Dante Schwebel (Dan Auerbach) on guitar, Doug MacGregor (Constantines) on drums and Matt Kelly on pedal steel and keys all contribute in such a synergistic way that it truly brings the live City and Colour experience into the studio.

What’s interesting as a fan and critic, however, is that the same underlying vulnerability and personal insecurities that are part of Green’s writing arsenal are present, but they have evolved to include an emotional and musical balance that’s satisfying in a new way. The subtlety remains, but the intensity as he explores those themes of separation, loss and distance and mortality in the context of relationships is on another level. “Mizzy C,” the title track, and “Wasted Love” are sterling examples of this uncertainty manifesting in very powerful, and stirring, performances.

And there is a moment, about the point that “Runaway” begins to play, that the tone shifts; suddenly the minor chords sound brighter, and Green is singing out with both a despair and hopefulness that is endearing and relatable. It’s that dichotomy of the human condition that coexists in his songs that makes them so damn good. It’s difficult not to gush over Green’s vocals; they are as impassioned as ever, displaying both vulnerability and power with that flawless falsetto and a singular purity.

The progression - lyrically, vocally, and musically - that this album represents in the City and Colour catalog cannot be denied. If I Should Go Before You is full of warmth, complexity and some achingly gorgeous performances that cut straight to the heart. Dallas Green continues to impress with his ability to deliver soulful lyrics and breathtaking vocals that seem to both defy and define the laws of nature. Dare I say that this fifth record is the best? If this is what creative evolution sounds like, I can’t wait for the next effort. But for now, If I Should Go Before You will keep spinning infinitely through my speakers.


 

City and Colour website: http://www.cityandcolour.com/

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