|Samson, John K / Winter Wheat|
|Add Date:||2017-02-01|| ||Pull Date:||2017-04-05|| |
|Week Ending:||26 Mar||19 Mar||12 Mar||5 Mar||26 Feb||19 Feb||12 Feb||5 Feb|
“Winter Wheat” John K. Samson|
John K. Samson is an extraordinary singer-songwriter. His lyrics consistently examine the human condition from unexpected perspectives like only a handful of the greats: Dylan, Lennon and Conor Oberst to name a few. In addition to writing and playing music, he’s an adjunct professor of creative writing at a university in British Columbia. His talent is on full display in his latest album, the sprawling 15-song “Winter Wheat.” The genre? Samson says “punk” in iTunes. That comes from his background as the frontman of the now disbanded, wildly popular Canadian group, The Weakerthans. But the tracks here are mostly rock or folk-rock — with a punky beat or energy at times. One of my absolute favorites!
Recommended: 2, 1, 5, 8, 10, 3, 15, 12. FCC clean.
1. (3:55) Select All Delete — Slow fade in on sustained orchestra chord. Very deliberate tempo. Simple guitar chords and Samson’s spare vocals. ****
2. (3:23) Postdoc Blues — Up-tempo rock. Rapidly strummed guitar with some tasty licks interspersed. Sympathetic vocals sung to struggling academics. ****
3. (2:52) Winter Wheat — Melancholy, but with a light touch. Strummed and fingerpicked acoustic guitar — with strings in places. ***
4. (3:05) Requests — Stately and reserved. An apology that came too late. Vocals set off with a simple rhythm of bass drum and high hat. Piano tinkles.
5. (2:33) Oldest Oak at Brookside — Up-tempo travelin’ song feel. A real head-nodder with tight percussion underlying strummed guitar and cello. ***
6. (3:15) Capital — Whimsical look at the changing economics of today’s world. Simple acoustic guitar with deep, reverbed guitar as well.
7. (2:29) 17th Street Treatment Centre — Understated, wryly humorous lullaby about life in a drug treatment center. First mention in this album of Samson’s long-running Virtute the Cat character.
8. (3:44) Vampire Alberta Blues — Very Neil Young-ish — inspired by Young’s “Vampire Blues.” Classic rock with steady beat. Timely political song about pipelines and extracting oil from Canada’s tar sands. ***
9. (3:51) Carrie Ends the Call — Unusual, rhythm-driven, stop-and-go tune.
10. (3:38) Fellow Traveller — Up-tempo romp with backbeat drums and bright tambourine, strummed guitar and busy bass. About Anthony Blunt, a British spy and Soviet double agent. ***
11. (4:28) Quiz Night at Looky Lou’s — Continuous, noisy, distorted drone. Only a bit of singing — mostly spoken lyrics.
12. (3:24) Alpha Adept — Meandering pace. Darker arrangement, with Samson’s still uplifting vocals. **
13. (4:01) Prayer for Ruby Elm — Steady walking beat. Strummed acoustic guitar, with a mix of acoustic and electric guitar solos.
14. (3:17) VPW 13 Blues — Up-tempo, wistful remembrance of his band’s (The Weakerthans) punk days. Strummed acoustic with crisp snare. Some female lead vocal counterpoint and female harmonies.
15. (1:37) Virtute at Rest — A short, sad ending to Samson’s Virtute the Cat saga that began many albums ago. Not quite Updike’s “Rabbit at Rest,” but equally heartbreaking for long-time Weakerthans fans. ***