Review Summary: Dallas Green's next step as an artist is a perfect blend of sadness and affection.If I Should Go Before You
opens up with “Woman”, a sprawling nine-minute monolith that ranks amongst the most intriguing material released by Dallas Green throughout his entire career as a musician. Expressing his flair for the progressive and the atmospheric, it’s certainly a bold statement when an artist puts his longest song ever as the introduction to the album, a strategy akin to having a low-average, high-power hitter batting leadoff in a lineup stacked with big bats.
In a way, kickstarting the record with “Woman” allows the album to fully immerse itself in its dark, moody atmosphere. It’s an absolutely haunting tune, one that rises with each pounding of the percussion and soaring of the vocals. Green’s decision to play with his touring band this time around allows its sound to feel more full and complete, unlike the one-man acoustic fare that he started out his solo career on. The light drums and lounge-like guitar complement Green’s wintry voice, creating an aura that is filled with despair and longing best exemplified on tracks like “If I Should Go Before You” and “Northern Blues”. Production-wise, the album’s sonic textures are much more smoothened out, allowing for a more expansive, complete feel. It feels much like a natural progression from The Hurry and the Harm
, which was bogged down by its own repetitive nature and lack of exploration.
Whereas previous efforts fixated primarily on maintaining one set sound, If I Should Go for You
experiments with diversity and is a much better album because of it. Several tracks incorporate elements of mellow blues-rock, with songs like “Killing Time” wallowing in its wistful, melancholy nature. Still, the album can get quite upbeat at times, with the twangy “Runaway” and the radio-friendly “Lover Come Back” offering a nice change of pace from the dreariness that occupied the record’s first half. While the uptempo beat offers a change in mood, the lyrics are often still somber (try to differentiate between “I’ll never be as good as I like to be, eternally restless, refusing to believe” and “This bitter disposition now must surely run its course”). Surprisingly, there’s even touches of R&B evident in some of the choruses. The embracing of this “full band” sound allows City and Colour to do more than serve as an acoustic outlet for Green during his downtime away from Alexisonfire. These songs are pure emotion, and it wouldn’t be farfetched to call this one of his best albums.
Dallas’ greatest instrument has always been his voice, and If I Should Go Before You
does nothing to change that. His soft, elegant vocals have never failed to express the spectrum of emotion, and this set of mellow, bluesy tunes fit his delicate singing flawlessly. While this time he has a full band backing him up, they only help make the album sound more whole and complete. He’s come a long way since the acoustic days of “Sometimes… (I Wish)” and “Hello, I’m in Delaware”, and as magnificent as those songs may be, this album is the next step in Green’s maturity as an artist. There’s a perfect blend of sadness and affection, of longing and desire, and of desperation and devotion. If we’re all still trapped inside his own little hell, then at least he’s making the time spent worthwhile.