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John Samson

Posted by [email protected] on September 26, 2013 at 12:25 AM

A New Road for John Samson of the Weakerthans

(1 Sep 2013)

I discovered the Weakerthans is 2000 while listening to punk rockers like Fifteen and Mustard Plug, all off the SubCity record label. Disillusioned after the rise and fall of traditional rock, metal and grunge because of what I saw was a lack of honesty to music. Listening to the weakerthans, I once again felt inspired by music and was ready to strip the tags away and listen to music which spoke to me regardless of what genre someone else had tagged it with. There are no walls confining the music and that makes it very difficult to categorize them to any other genre. So, instead of tagging them this or that let's put them in a separate category altogether. A place John sings about in the "Heart of the Continent" off the "Provincial" LP, released as his first Solo album in 2012, "The Crumpled Dark." This may mean nothing to you on the surface but that's exactly where you should start. Throw out all expectations you have for what your musical experience should feel like and let John take you with him, and you will come upon familiar places you have already been and feel things you once felt. The "Crumpled Dark" is within you already and waits to be rediscovered.


John's inspiration for "Provincial" came from exploring four different roads in Manitoba, the province where he lives. He sings about the thoughts invoked by places and objects rarely the object itself, which is why his songs speak so universally. In listening to "Provincial" I did not come away with any real understanding about his travels but rather the emotions and the feeling of shared experience. There is a human travel we all take and are still taking (places, people and emotions) shaping us every second of our existence. They forge a place in the "Crumpled Dark", a 6th sense, things we only get whiffs of,  close to our souls. Experiences so powerful they've etched themselves into  the truest essence of what makes us who we are and bare testament, that we have embraced the human experience.


Provincial utilizes what I can only refer to as the complexity of simplicity by utilizing every note in a given song to the greatest possible effect. Acoustic guitar, drums and piano, an occasional background fitting to the feeling John is trying to evoke. The instrumentals are smart and well placed though out the album and enhance the poetry of John’s lyrics.  Much like "Jets to Brazil" one comes away moved by the lyrics is these songs and inspired by the power of words, thoughtfully placed. It will have you looking at everything just a little longer, it will give you reflection, understanding and inspire you to reconnect with everything which makes you who you are and drives you to be who you want to be.


While I will always be a Weakerthans fan, I was very pleased with John's first solo effort. The entire album for me is a must have but If you just want to ease yourself in, I recommend you start with Heart of the Continent, When I Write My Master's Thesis, Letter in Icelandic..., and The Last And. After that, you will be hooked and most likely seeking more. If you are then check out all the old Weakerthans albums, every one of which is a solid album.


If you are a Weakerthans or John Samson fan please share your thoughts in the comments section.


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