It’s been just under ten years since Dallas Green released his first full-length solo album Sometimes under his moniker, ‘City and Colour’. Whereas his debut release was a stripped back, almost entirely acoustic guitar affair, Green’s newest release If I Should Go Before You is the latest in what has been a journey from one-man show to an Americana-esque, rock/country full band with all the bells, whistles and slide guitars.
Those familiar with City and Colour’s more recent work will have no complaints here. Keeping a similar tone as to what’s come before, If I Should Go Before You is a mixture of love songs with an honest omission to a lack of identity and belonging. Green fuses his emotive lyrical style with reverb-laden guitars, Fender Rhodes keys and slow grooves that drag in all the right places.
Songs like ‘Northern Blues’ and ‘Mizzy C’ with their fuzz driven guitars and Green’s high register are akin to that of Neil Young and Crazy Horse if they were to emerge as a new band now, in 2015 and the album hits its stride in songs like ‘Wasted Love’ and ‘Lover Come Back’ where the structure of hooks, chorus and lyrics are streamlined to present well-written, clever and catchy songs. You’d be forgiven for thinking the latter was a B-side from The Band thanks to the strength of the song’s melodies and its instant bittersweet tone.
Admittedly on first listen, it may not be the most gripping but this record is not meant to grab attention like the sound-bite pop of today. Keeping in mind this is an Americana/country album at heart, Green is happy to go at his own pace. His self-aimed lyrics and atmospheric instrumentation throughout the album (most notably on closing song ‘Blood’), make for an enveloping fifty-one minute listen.
If I Should Go Before You is an expressive, honest album from a seasoned songwriter confident in his abilities. It may not tick all the boxes for some of their older fans, more used to straight up acoustic guitar and vocals but in terms of songwriting and musical progression, City and Colour seem to have a clear vision for where they are going. This latest offering showcases just that, while leaving room for more growth.