John K. Samson City Route 85

John K. Samson <i>City Route 85</i>
Weakerthans fans clamouring for those gentle moments on records, where leader John K. Samson's idiosyncratic voice is accompanied by a bare minimum of instrumentation, should pay close attention to his new seven-inch, City Route 85. Samson has stepped away from his band for the first in a series of solo seven inches exploring his conflicted relationship with his home province of Manitoba.

To specify, Samson aims to write songs about different roads and highways throughout the province and, in a narrative sense, set his songs in those locales. City Route 85, for instance, is also known as Portage Avenue, a major street in Winnipeg and the three songs here capture scenes in as many different parts of the road. As such, the references will mean most to those familiar with Winnipeg but the songs themselves, particularly "Heart of the Continent" with its insistent acoustic guitar and Samson's measured voice, will resonate with lovers of Weakerthans songs like "One Great City!"

While "Grace General" might be the most forlorn of the trio and thus, the most distinctive, "Cruise Night" is intriguing for its flirtation with the hookier pop Samson is so adept at. It almost offers a peek into Samson's process, sitting somewhere between a full-band demo and the uniquely solitary endeavour it's presented as. In any case, Samson's goal of crafting a narrative arc on a seven-inch is a cool one and he accomplishes it via some alluring new work.

UPDATE: Full preview has expired listen to "Cruise Night" below:

Courtesy Of: Epitaph