Short stories and poetry are not really my thing. I find more pleasure in reading a novel and my healthy dosis of poetry I get from – as simple as it may be – song lyrics. Of course their poetic content, rhime and stylistic devices vary greatly. One artist who succeeds in being just as much a musician as short story writer and poet has always been John K Samson, mostly known as the singer and songwriter of Canadian The Weakerthans.
With “Provincial” he took the all natural step of making a record on his own, neither bound to compromise with bandmembers nor in any desperate need of an all-solo success. He created an album which is however musically not far settled from the band’s music (and why should it be). It combines the melancholy, reflective mood of the saddest Weakerthans songs à la Left and Leaving (“Heart of the continent”) with the joyfull, not less intellectual Weakerthans rock pieces (“When I write my master’s Thesis”). The heart of “Provincial” is, like it has been with all of Samsons music, the lyrics. He does not simply write songs, he writes, he creates. May it be a secret workplace romance, a petiton to honor a retired ice-hockey player or a plain description of his home, the province of Manitoba, “where the Atlantic and Pacific are the very same far away” (“Longitudinal Centre”). He does not simply narrate, he makes the stories narrate themselves. All of the twelve songs contain much more than the words and melodies you grasp in three to four minutes.
This is the album that makes people passing on the sidewalks wonder what the hell you are smiling at when grinning at them for no obvious reasons – while you have your headphones on. But it is just as well the perfect record for a lonely late night walk when you are in desperate need for a good cry. As young as 2012 still is, I dare say this record will last in your record player through the year and come out as one of 2012’s best, it will in mine.
In the US “Provincial” has been realeased on January 24 via Epitaph. In Germany you can find it in stores since January 27 through the label Grand Hotel van Cleef.
update: Grand Hotel van Cleef uploaded a 15 minute video, in which lots of great musicians talk about their experience with John K. Samson, his music and their expectations of “Provincial”. Watch it here!
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