Record Review: John K. Samson

by | Mar 21, 2012 | Reviews

John K. Samson


Winnipeg, MB

“A dark and winding journey down the somber roads of Manitoba”

The depth of John K. Samson’s lyricism and his ability to create honest and poignant music has always been beyond impressive. He is a prolific musician with a talent for spinning tales of characters who are seemingly lost and filled with longing. His first full-length solo album, Provincial, runs in this same vein as he shares stories of life in Manitoba.

The atmosphere is quite frequently haunting and one of melancholia. The minimalist “Highway 1 East” is the introduction and gives way to an album of intense imagery and blunt honesty. Tracks like “When I Write My Master’s Thesis” and “Grace General” are driven by a well-constructed combination of up-tempo alt rock and sparse piano and strings, respectively.

“Heart of the Continent” is perhaps the album’s most descriptive and sorrow-filled track.  As he describes an approaching storm, “inky bruises punched into the sky by bolts of light,” he paints a picture of billboards, brick buildings and darkness. It is here that the unforgiving reality of this land is shared.

Samson has chosen to embrace the darkened souls that inhabit much of his homeland in a way that makes them almost attractive. While he is often referred to as “The Weakerthans’ front man,” he is a talented artist who can hold is own, and who has found a way to reconcile that which is broken with the hope for something better.  (ANTI-/Epitaph)

Produced by Paul Aucoin

Mixed by Cam Loeppky