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Album Review: City and Colour - 'If I Should Go Before You'

12 October 2015 | 9:43 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

An album with a soul.

Skrillex would tell you that once you diverge from the scene norms in a successful or mainstream way your old fans won’t follow you forward and there’s never ever any turning back. Dallas Green would disagree. City and Colour is a project that’s retained an alternative scene following despite the vast distance between the soft-indie and Alexisonfire camps.

New album ‘If I Should Go Before You’ represents an adventure into fresh territory for City and Colour. Largely due to the fact it's a full band effort, a body and not a skeleton, it relies less on the conventions of folk and drifts into the bluesy, starting with a bigger risk than any: a nine-minute song. Slow and rocky opener ’Woman’ is a deft expression of the gentle intensity that City and Colour brings to the table that doesn’t conform in absolution to the conventions of any genre or requirement of general radio play. It’s bold and experimental, as well as a City and Colour fan’s emotional dream.

Northern Blues’ and ‘Mizzy C’ follow the album through as it ventures to a soulful state, painting time with catchy choruses, an edge discoverable in low-tuned guitars and even some rhythmic clicks. Pop vibes grace ‘Wasted Love’, while ‘Runaway’ (every artist has to have a song with that subject or title) possesses a little country. The award for the most joyful song ever written by City and Colour is ‘Map of the World’, which has an upbeat atmosphere and smiling instrumentals.

The flipside of the LP’s good mood is of course its dominant sad one. Eponymous track ‘If I Should Go Before You’ tugs at the heart strings, lamenting the subject suggested by its title in a method that easily trumps the trademark acoustic formula. ‘Lover Come Back’ expands on the heartbreak but has endearing backing vocals to boot, while ender ‘Blood’ is a twinkly acoustic but also an eerie way to say goodbye to album number five.

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City and Colour is more than just a musical project; it’s a means of experimentation, not just of how to write a song but of trying to convey human emotion outside of an objective box. Be it genre, be it the desire to hit the radio, City and Colour doesn’t care. It may be Dallas Green’s brainchild, but City and Colour is a softly spoken animal of its own now, and this album continues the musical journey it’s on to pull on our heart strings 'til they snap and then force us to dance a little bit after.

1. Woman

2. Northern Blues

3. Mizzy C

4. If I Should Go Before You

5. Killing Time

6. Wasted Love

7. Runaway

8. Lover Come Back

9. Map Of The World

10. Friends

11. Blood