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Winter Wheat

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Customer Reviews

It’s always a good day when...

...John K. Samson releases another amazing album!!! It just makes everything better.

May you fare better...

Overall, a pleasant-enough but forgettable listening experience. He retreads some familiar songer/songwriter emotional territory, but there's a distinct lack of emotion in both the singing and playing. In fact, it would be tough to sound more ambivalent than this. Suddenly, "Vampire Alberta Blues" comes along, and there's a spark. Although one of the better numbers, the song bears an uncomfortable resemblance to many of Songs:Ohia / Magnolia Electric Co. works (specifically "Almost Was Good Enough"), right up to the vulnerable warbles and general aww-shucks approach. But, this lacks the raw hurt that Jason Molina was able to infuse into his best songs. While the lyrics may be saying something different, this album smacks of indifference to me, and I'm simply unable to connect. Regardless, Mr. Samson is obviously a gifted songwriter, and I'll be paying attention for future releases.

May we grow

“May the birds answer carabiner clicks
Carry off the tiny seeds
Better ways to be alive
May it all seem plausible wherever we land
May we grow” - Prayer for Ruby Elm

When John K. Samson tells us in the title song “Winter Wheat” “We know this world is good enough, because it has to be, allow the hope that we will meet, again out in the winter wheat,” he is hand written in a field. His pace is set in the eyes of everyone that has glanced a landscape after arriving somewhere quiet, be it to a thought or a place, and there is a great level of endearing comfort there.

When he is chasing the beat of another song, Postdoc blues, he sings “Don't despair, you'll get it right, tomorrow night, in Thunder Bay, maybe. Don't delay, your day is short, you can't afford to wait.” He is running with clothing hanging out of the briefcase of this song. He is making excuses for his characters mistakes that they haven’t made yet.

There is a collision in this new record, “Winter Wheat” between the soft serenade of nostalgia for a well written hand written letter from an old friend across the country, and a quick text message from a virtual nobody.

The first track “Select All Delete” plays universal defeat, it plays winter, a fallow, a failed harvest, a failed romance. And the response (in technology speak) is to wipe the canvas clean, to get out, to slow dance with the burden of acceptance, quietly.

In “Requests” track four to Winter Wheat, Samson stays old, human, dour, yes, yet slightly upbeat. He relies on nature to save his grief. “I want you to hear the farm apologize,
For letting you believe you could return, I want you to dream in all the languages we couldn't learn, I want you to write my name under your name, With the year I was born and you began to disappear.”

In “Capitol” he speaks in a past tense he cannot keep up with, as his guitar moves marching forward into a dystopian future that he plays out to be inevitable. “So when they wonder where the money went, And we can't swim here anymore, And bankers warble algorithmically from the shore, The stations pump the new austerity, The Ogallala Aquifer and crackling California reservoirs making sure, Priced out of that old neighborhood for good.”

Every song plays a side, technology vs. nature, are we bettering ourselves and forgetting to better the world, forgetting that we are part of it.

Do we expect technology to improve us?

In an interview with The A.V club regarding the album he is quoted “I’m really interested in how technology is altering the way we interpret the world. It seems like everyone, especially those of us who have lived in a world with and without the internet, is obsessed by how it is changing the way we live and think.”

It is an important question to ask right now, and John asks it with a blue collar, a universal and understanding tone, one you will hear in a small town without wifi, something genuine, something hand written and worthwhile.

So ends my review on Winter Wheat, a smart, kind, very well written album.

Biography

Born: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Canadian singer, songwriter, and poet John K. Samson is best known as the frontman for introspective Winnipeg indie rock outfit the Weakerthans. During the early '90s, while playing bass for Canadian punk group Propagandhi, Samson released a 15-song solo cassette called Slips & Tangles. By the late '90s, he'd left Propagandhi to focus on his writing and start a publishing company. Around this same time, he formed the Weakerthans with drummer Jason Tait and bassist John P. Sutton, melding melodic...
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Winter Wheat, John K. Samson
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