‘If I Should Go Before You’ is City and Colour’s fifth studio album and doesn’t stray far from the band’s previous work to date. As you’d expect from Dallas Green, there are beautiful vocals aplenty, stripped-back guitars and gentle pop choruses, which should give current fans enough to enjoy, but there’s nothing revolutionary here to set it apart from previous records.
Green used his touring band as studio musicians for the first time on this album, giving the songs an uplifting, live-band feel. The musicians lay down a steady, coherent backdrop to Green’s vocals, creating some memorable moments, such as ‘Lover Come Back’ and ‘Blood’. Here, the folk-like jangling guitars compliment the full soul and power of Green’s vocals and draws out the emotions in the songs.
While this full-band effect harkens back to the days of the excellent ‘Sometimes’ record, ‘If I Should Go Before You’ doesn’t manage to replicate the intrigue of this earlier work. The tempo stays largely consistent across the eleven tracks and several songs suffer from a lack of variation, in particular 9-minute sprawling opener ‘Woman’. The first half of the record is heavy in falsetto which, although pleasant and well-delivered, takes away the soul and power of Green’s full voice. Later tracks, such as the stand-out ‘Friends’, which may be the best City and Colour song for some time, demonstrates that there’s no substitute for the amazing tone of Green’s full voice and to hear him belting this out more regularly would’ve enhanced the record.
If you’ve heard previous City and Colour records before, you’ll have a good idea of how ‘If I Should Go Before You’ will sound before you’ve even heard a note. While the album succeeds in offering what you’d expect, it offers little in the way of surprise or interest. As such, though the album is a decent listen, it isn’t particularly memorable.
’If I Should Go Before You’ by City and Colour is released on October 9th via Dine Alone Records.
Words by Mark Johnson (@Testwood)