Canadian singer/songwriter Dallas Green's long-tenured solo project City and Colour finally gels as a band on their strong fifth LP, If I Should Go Before You. What began as an outlet for his quieter, folk-based material eventually took the former Alexisonfire singer away from post-hardcore altogether and landed him atop the Canadian charts with a string of platinum records. In some ways, If I Should Go Before You is a culmination of the sturdy pop sound he's built up over the years that weaves through territories of dreamy indie folk, pastoral Americana, and soulful alt-rock. But unlike previous releases, which have relied heavily on a revolving door of session musicians, this time Green decided to stick with his touring band, developing these new songs from the ground up with trusted players who already share a bond. Nowhere is that bond more apparent than on the epic opener "Woman," a shimmering piece of riffy mood pop that builds slowly over nine minutes, hanging like a shared thought between its five creators. The tension continues on the pensive midnight grooves of "Northern Blues" and lies like an anxious undercurrent throughout this lovelorn, world-weary collection. More so than any of his other releases, If I Should Go Before You resembles a soul record with Green's warm, sweet tenor crooning over the tight-knit rhythm section of bassist Jack Lawrence (the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather) and drummer Doug MacGregor (the Constantines) on dark R&B-type ballads like "Killing Time" and the title cut. City and Colour take a turn toward alt-country on tracks like the lovely pedal steel-aided "Runaway" and the subtle rumbling "Map of the World" before concluding with the sparse and atmospheric closer "Blood." Most of the songs exceed the four-minute mark and the lack of an obvious single makes If I Should Go Before You feel even more like a single, lovingly crafted entity.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger