Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It’s hard to say exactly why John K. Samson isn’t an instantly recognizable name, why this solo album has to be promoted as “John K. Samson of The Weakerthans.” Maybe part of it is that he’s just so darn Canadian. Some bands and songwriters from Canada make it easy to forget they’re our Northern neighbors; there’s nothing particularly American about them, but there’s nothing particularly Canadian about them, either.
As the lead singer/songwriter for Canadian emo-roots rockers The Weakerthans, John K. Samson has crafted a distinct personality as blue collar poet laureate. With lyrics often addressing political issues of the working class in the same breath as devotionally romantic or nostalgic imagery, Samson culls up irony-free scenes of youthful love and wonder in downtrodden but hopeful smalltown landscapes.
JOHN K. SAMSON plays solo at Soundscapes on Tuesday (January 24) and with the Provincial Band at the Great Hall on March 22. See listing. Rating: NNNN John K. Samson's first solo album is by no means a departure from his work as frontman for beloved Winnipeg rockers the Weakerthans, but he does ….
Review Summary: Weakerthans frontman reconstructs his own world a little more sparsely.Like one of the characters in John K. Samson's stories that can't focus on what makes him happy through all the slips and tangles, for a while I didn't understand Provincial in the way I've come to do. First, thrown off by its close ties to Reunion Tour, I stumbled through the relationship between songwriter and band, and prepared to write that this solo LP was merely the softer side of The Weakerthans revisited.
John K. Samson, former Propagandhi bassist and leader of the bookish indie unit the Weakerthans, has always had a journeyman streak running through his songwriting. On each Weakerthans album, Samson has presented a wide variety of locations and portraits. We've been in hospital beds with his characters, in the wilderness of Antarctica, we've even watched a person completely fall apart emotionally from the perspective of a cat.
John K. Samson started as the frontman for Propaghandi, playing ultraleft (and vegan!) hardcore punk. After two albums, however, he left to start the Weakerthans, which allowed him to gain some distance from the political and focus more on the personal. The Weakerthans early albums were still punk-inflected, but over time Samson softened the edges.
John K. Samson is—alongside John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats) and David Dondero—one of indie rock’s finest lyricists. He’s especially canny at chronicling the subtle advancing anomie and niggling emptiness at the center of modern life. His characters are often lost and resigned, drifting listlessly and taking on water.