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review | John K Samson :: Provincial

john k samson review photo

Provincial is out tomorrow! pick it up at your local record store or on iTunes. or, even better, buy it when you go to the show when he comes to your town! that’s my plan, unfortunately, the show’s over two months away. after streaming the album all week from exclaim.ca, i may need to make a trip up to Red Cat Records to pick up a copy before then.

though it is a solid, consistently good album, i’ve fallen in love with a few tracks, specifically. i’ve had a soft spot for “Heart of the Continent” since the City Route 85 EP. i spent a great deal of time in the building this song laments. during high school and university, United Army Surplus Sales was where i went to buy all my US combat pants, German field pants, Canadian combat and garrison boots, purses (artillery bags), my winter boots (mountaineering boots) – i had a bit of a grungy gothy thrift store butchy chic going on back then… it was also where i got my very first swiss army knife as a birthday present for myself when i was 21. i can still see the racks and display cases in my mind. i will forever have that store memorized.

but i digress. the Provincial recording of “Heart of the Continent” is even better than the first version. the additional instumentation adds a hushed, pretty, jangly, dreamy effect, a sound not unlike driving down a prairie highway in the summer with the window cracked. other highlights include “Cruise Night’s” soloing electric guitar with Dinosaur Jr echoes; “The Last And” is a slow, jazzy lament, the story of being left behind; “Highway 1 West” a slow indie rock anthem that sounds like Weakerthans through and through and “Taps Reversed”, with Christine Fellows on piano and vocals, has incredible, gorgeous harmonies that hauntingly create a third note. “When I Write My Masters Thesis is a somewhat autobiographical tune named loosely after a Bob Dylan song. it’s a straight ahead rock-y Weakerthans sound, with the same tongue-in-cheek wit.

my favourite track on this album is “Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San”: so beautiful. Samson’s ability get inside his characters and pour forth their emotions has a domino effect – those songs get inside of me, as well. the song’s content is incredibly sad, but it compels me to listen again and again through his poetry, gentle vocals, and the singing strings.

let’s see if i can hold out until March 31st to pick this one up…

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