Great News For Literate Music-Lovers: The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson Releases Sensational Second Solo Album “Winter Wheat”

Oct 25th, 2016 in Music


We were always weak in the knees for The Weakerthans. Though that band is on indefinite hiatus (i.e. kaput), its singer/songwriter/leader John K. Samson has just released his sensational second solo album entitled, Winter Wheat, which is available now from Epitaph/ANTI. We have been anxiously awaiting Winter Wheat since Samson’s sublime debut album, Provincial, was No. 3 on our Best Albums of 2012.

Samson’s songs are always phenomenally well-crafted (especially true of his oft-poetic lyrics) and never fail to affect, particularly as matched with his evocative vocals that inevitably engender an emotional response from listeners. Our first listens to Winter Wheat lead us to believe that the album will once again place very highly on our Best Albums of 2016 list.

Word is that the album was inspired by “the search for connection and community, his hometown of Winnipeg, and our individual and collective struggles with addictions to drugs, screens, and fossil fuels.” Several of the album’s songs were further inspired by Neil Young’s seminal On the Beach album. Winter Wheat was produced by Samson’s partner and frequent-collaborator, Christine Fellows, and backed by his Weakerthans rhythm section (Jason Tait and Greg Smith), Leanne Zacharias on cello, and Shotgun Jimmie on electric guitar.

As usual, Samson’s songs tell literate stories of loss, longing and lift. Postdoc Blues “follows an aging student struggling to maintain faith in the possibility of a better world.” Fellow Traveller is a take-off “on the life of the British art critic and Soviet spy Anthony Blunt.” Oldest Oak at Brookside aspires to capture 150 years of Winnipeg’s history. And the recurring Virtute the Cat makes a return for her final appearances in 17th Street Treatment Centre and the grievous Virtute at Rest.

Though the entire album is a tour de force and a songwriter’s treasure trove, on first listen our favorite songs are the devastating Select All Delete (with its lines “I don’t mean to miss the good old days. The good old days were mostly bad.”) and the castigating Vampire Alberta Blues (with its re-purposing of Neil Young’s Vampire Blues and its scintillating homage to Young’s guitar-playing that starts at 2:34). Oh and Capital and every single song on the album are favorites too.

Do yourselves a favor and go buy the vinyl HERE or a digital copy HERE.

As an added bonus, check out the sanguine lyrics to Alpha Adept at bottom.  So very good.

Alpha Adept:

“For now I know we are alone here
Still, we should be prepared to leave
I’ve found a place where I have hidden
Supplies and books and sleeping bags
And I’ll sing in my prescriptions
From our fort out in the forest near a stream
And they’ll place them in a tiny yellow sailboat
And sail them to me
All I can say is I’m excited
All I can do is let you know
You are the one I wanna be with
When they return to claim the
Earth For a planet near Orion’s Belt
Where everyone is happier and tall
And they sing a billion stories with their minds
While flying all around the sky
I have heard them singing each to each
And who’s to say that they won’t sing to me
I’m not certain but I’m pretty sure
They’re gonna sing a song for you and me.”

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