City and Colour, the stage name of Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green, is one of today’s highly underrated alternative bands. His latest album, released Oct. 9, “If I Should Go Before You,” holds true to many of City and Colour’s classic tropes. The album centers on deeply existential lyrics over a melancholic acoustic guitar line, but also conveys a new psychedelic and futuristic sound. The new album focuses more on the alternative rather than folk genre, which separates it from many of the singer’s previous works.
However, this new twist may alienate fans of Green’s signature folk sound.
Green has been releasing albums under “City and Colour” since 2005, when he released his debut album “Sometimes.” He has released five albums since then, including “Bring Me Your Love,” which sold enough copies on its release day to crash the record’s website. The album includes the popular song “Sleeping Sickness” featuring Gordon Downie, the lead singer of the band The Tragically Hip.
The lead track, “Woman,” immediately sets the album apart from City and Colour’s previous work. The listener is led gently into a song contemplating mortality and true love with a synthesized, psychedelic opening that could give Florence and the Machine a run for their money. The song also features a myriad of long, soulful electric guitar riffs that give the song a certain contemplative heaviness that we have come to expect from City and Colour. At a lofty 9 minutes and 16 seconds, the song is the longest on the album by far, and drags the listener into a drawn-out, breathless rendition that highlights Green’s vocal talents while also drawing on the deep sounds of electric synth-pop.
“Northern Blues” steps a bit away from the psychedelic richness of “Woman,” but boasts the same brooding drum line and deep guitar, perfectly transitioning to the rest of the album from Green’s lofty 9-minute opener.
“Mizzy C” gives a subtle nod to Green’s days as a punk singer with a heavy electric guitar undertone, as well as some gnarly solos peaking throughout. The vocals in this piece are significantly more upbeat than the previous songs, which gives the song an intriguing twist away from Green’s classic brooding existentialism.
Halfway through our alternative-psychedelic journey, we get “If I Should Go Before You,” which returns to the contemplative synth-pop of the first track. The song features a lot of Grateful Dead-esque guitar undertones along with Green’s signature angst-filled lyrics that question his own mortality and that of his lover, similar to what we see in some of his past songs, like “Body in a Box.”
It isn’t until “Wasted Love” that we part ways from the initial musing tones of the album’s first songs. The song features an upbeat electric guitar line and bouncy drums along with some cheery lyrics from Green. The song’s tempo is a drastic pick-up from the previous songs, and the song gives off a free-floating and happy feeling that makes you want to dance around the room.
“Runaway” continues the sudden mood shift from “Wasted Love.” It starts off with a high-spirited electric guitar riff and continues on with a foot-stomping drum beat and slide guitar. The song’s lyrics are an obvious departure for Green — much faster in tempo and favoring the brighter side of his voice over his usual decadent droll.
“Friends” opens with the same slide guitar as “Runaway,” but with a slower drum beat and tempo, making the song slightly more melancholic. Green’s free-spirited lyrics about “the wild winds” combined with the slide guitar and simple drumbeat give the song a folky feel. The end of the song is drastically different and especially intriguing, featuring a fat electric guitar riff over a rising drum beat and some gospel-like vocals from Green, highlighting the same upbeat euphoria as “Runaway.”
The album’s final song, “Blood,” wraps up Green’s latest work with an unexpected yet truly beautiful and heart-wrenchingly sad piece.
A simple acoustic guitar line dominates the song, accompanied by quiet piano, tambourine and drum lines. Green’s vocals are drawn out, deep and soulful, evoking peaceful, yet powerful emotions like only City and Colour can.
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