Photograph by Jason Halstead

Provincial is John K. Samson’s first full-length solo album. Collecting re-recorded versions of songs from his previously released EPs City Route 85 and Provincial Road 222, along with a few extras, the Weakerthans’ frontman finds himself able to explore a bit musically and indulge in a bit of weirdness.

Not that anything here would be particularly out of place on a Weakerthans album, but the subject matter is certainly more varied, and as a whole the album is more subdued. Most noticeable is ‘’ formerly known as ‘Petition’, which is less a song and more a plea to get hockey player (and fellow Manitoba native) Reggie Leach into the Hall of Fame. ‘Stop Error’ is much improved on this record, as Samson’s solo vocals evoke more pathos than the awkward choir found on the EP. Though the Call of Duty 4 shout-out is still a little jarring. ‘The Last And’ is as good as ever, and the knowledge that it was inspired by the relationship of Edna Krabappel and Seymour Skinner only improves that. As for the new songs, the clear stand-out is ‘When I Write My Master’s Thesis’. More upbeat than the rest of the album, still name-dropping video games (take that Lana del Rey), anyone who’s been in grad school can relate to the light at the end of the tunnel Samson presents here.

With Samson’s body of work, it’s strange to call Provincial a debut, but in any case, it’s a successful one. Now get to work on that all-Virtute concept album, Samson.


— , January 20, 2012    Comments Off on John K. Samson: Provincial