City And Colour – If I Should Go Before You

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Jessikah Hope Stenson delves into City And Colour's fifth album and finds exactly what an album should offer: a sonically cohesive work with some absolute gems.

I know City And Colour from the gorgeous acoustic song O Sister which has been melting my heart since my GCSE years, so you can see it left an impression on me. Despite my love for that one song, I never truly delved into the rest of City And Colour’s music – and right now I am asking myself why not? Seriously, I was missing out.

The single Wasted Love was floating around on social media when I stumbled across it and decided to hit play, more to fill the silence of my bedroom and procrastinate an essay plan than anything else. Since then I have had it on repeat almost constantly. From the first listen the chorus hooked me, from the second I was singing along and from the third I was sending it to everyone I knew who might be remotely interested. In short, the song did exactly what it should do; it enchanted me.

The guitar riff isn’t particularly inventive but it’s original enough to sound interesting, and the vocals are messy enough to seem passionate but tidy enough to show that Dallas Green can actually sing. In a completely different way, Lover Come Back is also an incredible song. The blues style guitars break into solo wonderfully on several occasions, the lyrics are romantic in a non-sickening way and the whole track has a lovely winter feel. It’s nice to see a track released in a season it actually suits (sorry, Justin Bieber – you failed at that task).

If I Should Go Before You kicks off in the most unconventional way ever – a track called Woman that lasts for a whopping nine minutes and seventeen seconds. The echoing guitars give this song a dreamlike tone which is then transformed by a steady, building drumbeat that gives it the power of an album-closer. Although on first listen this can seem out of place, it really, truly works. It sets the album apart from most 2015 releases, making it memorable from the outset and easing you into the LP.

The real album closer, Blood, brings back the acoustic City And Colour sound that captured my interest almost five years ago. It speaks of nature, the “beauty buried beneath,” which ends the LP with a tone of contentedness which is more than welcome – I, personally, am done with albums that build and build to nothing. If I Should Go Before You poses questions and builds, as an album should, and then answers them.

The songs that tie Woman to Blood are a selection of allegorical masterpieces that stand strong individually as well as within the context of the album. Map Of The World in particular is a great example of insightful allegory entwined with City And Colour’s developed sound, which complement each other well.

“There is a map of the world
That lies upon my weary face
Each line representing a mile
I have travelled from place to place.”

One thing is for sure: If I Should Go Before You is a sonically cohesive success. It’s difficult to rate as songs like Wasted Love and Lover Come Back are unfaultable, which make some of the other tracks seem a little less impressive. However, had I heard the album without my favourite songs, I would have still valued it and scored it highly, demonstrating just how far City And Colour has pushed his own boundaries.

Picks: Wasted Love, Lover Come Back, Map Of The World
Rating: 4/5