“To be honest, there’s not really a lot of acoustic guitar on the record.” Dallas Green has startled us with the revelation that If I Should Go Before You, his fifth full-length LP as an acoustic troubadour, is er, well, not very acoustic at all.
Indeed, anyone who’s heard lead single, Woman, will be struck by the huge, ambient soundscapes and minimal lyrics taking the place of the intimate acoustic numbers of the past. Given this Floydy left-turn, we have to ask, is the whole record like this?
“Well, they’re shorter for starters!” Dallas jokes of Woman’s near 10 minute run-time. “But it is all full band, and a lot of electric guitar… which should piss a bunch of people off!”
The band he’s referring to are the musicians he’s taken on tour with him the last few years: bassist Jack Lawrence, drummer Doug MacGregor, guitarist Dante Schwebel and pedalsteel man Matt Kelly.
Rather than record the album with session musicians, he brought them into the live room of studio D in Nashville’s famous Blackbird Studio, and captured If I Should Go Before You, mainly live, in 10 days.
“I’d never felt that confident with a group of guys who were not only talented, but took really good care of my old songs,” says Dallas of the decision.
“I kinda felt like they were trustworthy, and I could just present the ideas in their rawest form, and then have the guys help me put them together.”
When it came to the album’s expansive guitar work, Dallas and Dante were able to split the load fairly easily.
“I’m kind of the more main riff stuff, and he’s like that Steve Cropper/Curtis Mayfield funky weird stuff,” he affirms. The new tones, meanwhile, were created with the aid of some choice gear including a boutique Clark Fenderstyle 1x15 combo, Strymon effects, and a 60s Fender Jazzmaster Dallas describes as, “the perfect blend – I can make it sound supergnarly when I need it to, and I can back it off and it can be as clean as the day is long. It’s become my main guitar.”
Heart and honesty
While Woman is a jamfest, that’s not the only unfamiliar well the new material draws from, however. “I’ve always been a big fan of D’Angelo, stuff like that…” Dallas reveals.
“And I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to put that influence into my music as much as I would have liked. But this is the best showcase of that, so I’m pretty excited.”
Fans may be wary, but the heart and honesty of his songwriting remains, and Dallas is sure the hardcore will appreciate his new, more communal direction.
“The record is like this family oriented experience, where it’s a group of people trusting each other to make the best thing possible,” he enthuses. “And I think that’s what we did.”