“There’s a line that I’m trying to find, between the water and the open sky,” sings Dallas Green on “Friends,” the penultimate track off of his fifth release as City and Colour, If I Should Go Before You. For someone like Green, it’s hard to imagine that there’s much left to search for – he’s traversed the globe on tour, released numerous albums (one most recently as You+Me with Alecia Moore, aka P!nk) and collected scores of accolades. Though Green is a musician, he doesn’t make a show of things: that’s the songs’ job. Thus he’s done this all quietly, intentionally, still looking for the next answer or dog-eared chapter each record holds. And this time, on If I Should Go Before You, he once again uncovered something new: a certain kind of family in his bandmates.
“It’s been a very special two years for me,” says Green, about the period since the release of 2013’s The Hurry and the Harm, which has seen him touring with the consistent ensemble of Dante Schwebel (guitar: Dan Auerbach, Rumba Shaker), Doug MacGregor (drums: Constantines), Jack Lawrence (bass: The Raconteurs, Dead Weather) and multi-instrumentalist Matt Kelly. “They inspired me to want to create new music, just to create it with them – I don’t think I wrote these songs for the band, per se, but I certainly wrote them because of the band.”
But there was one thing that Green did want to do himself this time: produce the record. He returned to Blackbird Studios in Nashville, with the help of friend Karl Bareham as his partner and engineer, along with the masterful mixing skills of Jaquire King (Dawes, Kings of Leon, Tom Waits). Everyone who had a hand in the making of the record was or became part of the City and Colour family. Green’s songs have always had a striking, visceral feel that pumps through the veins like oxygen, and, this time, it became a sort of translatable DNA.
Green began recording as City and Colour in 2005, with Sometimes, followed by 2008’s Bring Me Your Love and 2011’s Little Hell, and has experienced huge success both on the charts and the road. All four previous studio albums have achieved platinum status in Canada, while Little Hell is also now Gold in Australia. The Hurry and the Harm debuted at #16 in the USA on the Billboard chart, # 1 on Canada’s Top 200 Chart and #4 in Australia, as City and Colour’s highest debut. He also released four records as part of Alexisonfire, which have all received Gold and Platinum certification in Canada, as well as 2014’s rose ave. as You+Me with P!nk, which made its entrance at #1 on the Canadian Albums Chart, # 4 in the USA, #2 in Australia and #6 in Germany .
On If I Should Go Before You, Green may have found one answer to what lies between the water and that open sky: it’s the people we hold close, and the art born out of friendship. But he will always be searching; and thus, there will always be more songs. Though this time, when he’s ready to share them again, he’ll know exactly who to turn to.